eNarada, Bhubaneswar, Saturday, July 14, 2018
The biggest and widely celebrated nine-day annual car festival, the Rath Yatra, of Lord Jagannath (the Lord of the Universe) began today at the coastal town of Puri on the south-east coast of India. Millions of devotees from all over the country and the world thronged this small pilgrim town on the shore of the Bay of Bengal to witness the festival. Rath Yatra, also known as the Festival of Chariots, is celebrated at Puri, the worldly abode of the Lord of the Universe, from time immemorial.
Like every year, the Car Festival was also celebrated in many states across the Indian peninsula: Delhi, Gujarat, Maharashtra, Karnataka, Tamil Nadu, etc. which also were participated by devotees in millions who pulled the chariots with great spiritual fervor.
A large number of devotees in many towns across the globe: New York, Tokyo, London, and many others too celebrated and enjoyed the bliss of the Jagannath Rath Yatra by pulling the chariot of the Lord of the Universe on the very first day of the Yatra.
Lord Jagannath (an incarnation of Lord Vishnu), Badathakura Balabhadra (Lord Krishna’s elder Brother), the Devi Subhadra (Lord Krishna’s Sister) and Sudarshana (representing the circular weapon of Lord Sri Krishna) are worshipped on the sanctum sanctorum inside a well sculpted gigantic stone temple in Puri.
The deities, along with many deities of the lesser Gods and Goddesses: Madanmohan, Sridevi, and Vishwadhatri, to a name few, were brought out onto the Bada Danda (main street of Puri) and were placed on the three chariots especially built for each of the three deities separately. The three chariots were respectively Taladhwaja (for Lord balabhadra), Debadalana (for Devi Subhadra) and Nandighosha (for Lord Jagannath).
Three huge chariots (Ratha), built, anew every year, of freshly cut wood into temple-like structures covered with hand stitched canopy of several lengths of textiles of various hues were taken to their destination, the Gundicha Temple, located some 3 kms away on the bada danda. The rains didn’t dampen the spirit of the devotees.
After elaborate rituals early on the first day, the deities were prepared for the Yatra. The huge deities of the Lord Balabhadra, Lord Subhadra, and the Lord Jagannath were gracefully marched in a file from the sanctum sanctorum on to the chariots (the process is known as Pahandi). The deities will return (called Bahuda Yatra or the Return Car festival) to the main temple mounting their respective chariots on Sunday, July 22.
Rath Yatra was also celebrated with gaiety and religious fervor at Shri Bani kshetra of Kalinga Institute of Social Sciences (KISS), Bhubaneswar. The celebration was participated by devotees from inside the campus and outside. More than 30 thousand devotees participated in pulling the decorated chariots. Lord Jagannath, Balabhadra and Devi Subhadra were carried on three colorful wooden chariots, festooned with flowers, appliqué and mural paintings.