Festivals are synonymous with pomp and show, and the famous Jagannath Puri Rath Yatra of India, also known as the Chariot Celebration of Lord Jagannath, is marked with such enthusiasm and fervour.
One of the most awaited Hindu festivals in the country, the Jagannath Puri Rath Yatra 2022, a nine-day long festival, is all set to commence on July 1, 2022. It’s the time of the year when the entire city of Puri, Odisha, comes to life. Every year, during the ‘car festival’ of Puri, Odisha witnesses thousands of devotees and volunteers from all over the world, who gather to pull the rath (chariot) with 45-feet high idols of Lord Jagannath (Lord Krishna), Goddess Subhadra and Lord Balabhadra.
But do you ever wonder why millions of people come together on this particular day to pull a chariot? Or why do we celebrate the Rath Yatra? Read here to know everything about this grand and significant festival for Hindus.
As per the Hindu calendar, the festival is observed on Dwitiya Tithi (second day) of Shukla Paksha of Ashadha month. This year, the Jagannath Rath Yatra 2022 date falls on July 1 and will continue till July 12, 2022.
The Rath Yatra is dedicated to Lord Jagannath (Lord Krishna) and signifies his journey from Gokul to Mathura. According to the Hindu scriptures, this tradition of the Rath Yatra dates back very old.
The Jagannath Rath Yatra story starts with Goddess Subhadra, the younger sister of Lord Jagannath, expressing her desire to go around the city of Puri, which led to this procession. It is believed that during this time of the year, Lord Jagannath along with his two siblings, visits his aunt's house, the Gundicha temple. The three stay there for eight days and then return to their abode, the 12th-century Jagannath Temple, which is over 3 kilometres away.
It is also believed that on the fourth day of their stay at the Gundicha temple, Goddess Laxmi, the consort of Lord Jagannath, also comes to Gundicha temple in search of him.
The grand celebration of chariot pulling begins much earlier with the construction and decoration of the raths or chariots, as the three chariots are highly auspicious and the highlights of the entire Yatra. All three chariots are decorated in different ways but in the same manner as it has been done for centuries.
Before the celebration, the idols of the three idols are bathed and dressed. On the day the Yatra commences, millions of devotees gather to pull the three chariots of Lord Jagannath, his elder brother Lord Balabhadra and his sister Goddess Subhadra from the Jagannath Temple to the Gundicha Temple and stop at Mausi Maa Temple, where the idols are offered their favourite food. The chariots then return to the Jagannath Temple after their nine-day long stay at the Gundicha Temple.
The decorated Raths are then pulled by enthusiastic devotees using ropes, and the whole act is believed to be extremely religious, which washes away one’s sins.
The zealous sounds of thousands chanting mantras, singing religious songs and blowing conches, and people dancing in merriment make the prominent Rath Yatra an unforgettable experience for everyone witnessing it.
Here is the complete schedule of the procession of the Rath Yatra of Puri this year.
July 1: Jagannath Rath Yatra begins: The deities start their journey towards the Gundicha temple.
July 5: Hera Panchami: The period of the first five days of the deities' stay at the Gundicha temple.
July 8: Sandhya Darshan/ Navami Darshan/ Adap Mandap Darshan: The auspicious occasion for the devotees as they are allowed to see and pray to all the deities.
July 9: Bahuda Yatra: The period during which the deities commence their journey back home.
July 10: Sunabesa: The period of the three deities residing in the Jagannath temple.
July 11: Aadhar Pana: The ritual in which a special drink is offered to the holy chariots.
July 12: Niladri Bije: A special ritual performed at the end of the Jagannath Puri Rath Yatra.
The chariot of Lord Jagannath is 45 feet high, comprises 16 wheels and is referred to as Nandighosa. Lord Balabhadra’s chariot is 45.6 feet high with 14 wheels and is named Taladhwaja. The chariot of Subhadra is 44.6 feet high, has 12 wheels, and is known as Devadalana.
The three idols who are carried on the holy chariot are first bathed with 108 buckets of water in a ceremony called the Snana Purnima.
Before the main procession, the idols are kept in isolation as a part of another ceremony called Ansara because they are believed to be unwell.
The festival of the Jagannath Puri Rath Yatra is the only time of the year when the non-Hindu devotees get to see the Gods and Goddess of the famous Jagannath Temple Puri.
The Gundicha Temple is cleaned every year before Lord Jagannath’s chariot is carried there for a week’s stay.
People believe that the auspicious Rath Yatra yields power equal to a hundred sacrifices. So, if a devotee pulls the chariot of the three Lords, they receive manifolds of happiness and prosperity.
The festival is celebrated on an international level, the credit for which goes to the ISKCON foundation.
So, now that you know everything about the Jagannath Rath Yatra 2022, do visit the town of Puri in Odisha someday to witness the grandiosity of the legendary holy procession and wash away your sins by helping to pull the chariot. Witness the holy aura of the auspicious occasion with your kids and make them feel closer to their traditional roots.