Puri Ratha Yatra

Ratha Yatra or Chariot Festiva is a Hindu festival that is celebrated at famous Jagannatha temple in Puri every year. Ratha Yatra day is decided based on Hindu Lunar calendar.

Updated: October 10, 2018

Ratha Yatra or Chariot Festiva is a Hindu festival that is celebrated at famous Jagannatha temple in Puri every year. Ratha Yatra day is decided based on Hindu Lunar calendar. It is fixed on Dwitiya Tithi during Shukla Paksha of Ashada month. In Gregorian calendar it falls in month of June or July.
In city of Puri, Lord Jagannatha is worshipped at famous Jagannatha temple who is considered as a form of Lord Vishnu and also revered by the followers of Vaishnavism. Jagannatha temple is one of the four Hindu pilgrimage centers known as Char Dham pilgrimages. A Hindu is expected to make this Char Dham pilgrimages in his/her lifetime. Jagannatha literally means Lord of the Universe. Lord Jagannatha is worshipped along with his brother Balabhadra and his sister Devi Subhadra in Puri temple. All these deities with the celestial wheel (Sudarshana Chakra) are removed from the temple in a ceremonial procession to their chariots.
Ratha Yatra is a annual visit of Lord Jagannatha to Gundicha Maa temple which is situated at a distance of 2 km from their temple. In this festival, three richly decorated chariots one for each diety that resembles temple structures are pulled by the devotee through the streets of Puri called Badadanda. This is the only day when devotees who are not allowed in the temple premises, such as non-Hindus and foreigners, can get a glimpse of these deities. During the festival, devotees from all over the world go to Puri to help pulling the three chariots with ropes. The huge processions accompanying the chariots play devotional songs with drums, tambourines, trumpets etc.
The chariots are built new each year only from a particular type of tree which are approximately 45 feet (14 m) high. The chariot of Lord Jagannatha is called Nandighosa. The chariot of Lord Balarama, called the Taladhwaja and of Subhadra, known as Dwarpadalana. The festival is also broadcast live on many Indian, foreign television channels as well as many of the websites telecast Jagannath ratha yatra live.
As the legendary King Indradyumna had built the Puri Jagannatha temple, the Lord Jagannatha, Balabhadra and Subhadra leave their regular abode in the main temple and spend a few days in this temple to honor the devotion of Queen Gundicha, the wife of King Indradyumna. Gundicha Temple is cleaned by devotees of Lord Jagannatha one day before of Ratha Yatra. The ritual of cleaning Gundicha temple is known as Gundicha Marjana. The fourth day after Ratha Yatra is celebrated as Hera Panchami when Goddess Lakshmi, the wife of Lord Jagannatha, visits Gundicha temple in search of Lord Jagannatha.  Lord Jagannatha returns to his main abode after resting eight days in Gundicha temple. On the eighth day after Ratha Yatra on Dashami Tithi, Bahuda Yatra or Return Yatra is observed. During Bahuda Yatra Lord makes a short stoppage at Mausi Maa temple which is dedicated to Goddess Ardhashini and have an offering of the Poda Pitha, which is a special type of pancake supposed to be the favorite of Lord Jaganath. Ratha Yatra is also known as Puri Car Festival among foreign visitors. 

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