ath Yatra or the famous Chariot Festival marks Lord Jagannath’s yearly sojourn to HIS maternal aunt’s abode. Well, yes, it is a fact propounded by the legends. However, the pomp and show with which the occasion is celebrated in Puri, the abode of Lord Jagannath, Balaram and Subhadra, is indeed something to be graced at least once in a lifetime.
For those who are yet unaware of this great festivity, here we have got few interested facts about the Puri Rath Yatra that you’ll surely love to know—
The occasion is celebrated every year on the Ashadh Shukla Dwitiya, according to Hindu calendar. And, apparently, there hasn’t been a single Rath Yatra day ever when it hasn’t rained in Puri!
- Journeying with siblings
As said earlier, it is a time when Lord Jagannath, along with his elder brother and younger sister, Balaram and Subhadra respectively, is sent to their maternal aunt’s place—Gundicha Temple (or the Mausima Temple) in Puri where they stay for 9 days before returning to their home!
Journeying with siblings
- Resting in high fever time
The door to the main Jagannath Temple in Puri is kept shut for the last 7 days before the Rath Yatra festival. Well, can you guess the reason? Apparently, every year, during this time, Lord Jagannath gets high fever due to which “visitors” are not allowed to see him. And, it is this fever that calls for a change and hence, the famous visit to their maternal aunt’s (or Mousi’s) place!
Resting in high fever time
- The only temple where deity walks out
It is the only festival in the world where the deity is taken out of the temple.
The only temple where deity walks out
- Breaking the caste barrier
Jagannath Temple is said to be governed by the most stringent Hindus around and is a temple where only Hindus by birth can enter and offer prayers. And, as known to all, Lord Jagannath has HIS followers not only among the Hindus but among many other people who’ve taken the up the ways of Lord. So, naturally these followers, no matter how religious they are, aren’t allowed to enter the premises and have to pray from the doorstep of the Dakshin dwaar. However, on this auspicious day, the barriers of caste, religion and creed simply vanish and it is humanity that is worshipped!
Breaking the caste barrier
- Lords and their chariots
The three deities, Jagannath, Balaram and Subhadra travel in three different chariots—Nandighosha, Lord Jagannath’s chariot, has 18 wheels and is as much as 45.6 ft high, Taladhwaja, Lord Balaram’s chariot, has 16 wheels and is around 45 ft. in height and Devadalana, the chariot of Lord Jagannath, has 14 ft. and is around 44.6 ft. high.
Lords and their chariots
- New chariots, every year
Surprisingly, the chariots are constructed each year anew with new set of wood, and invariably the height and width and every else would be an absolute replica of the past!
New chariots, every year
- When Lord resists from moving
Legend has it that Lord Jagannath would be unwilling to visit his aunt’s place every time, and creepily, every year, no matter how many thousands of devotees push the chariot, it would simple refuse to move a bit from its place. It’s only after hours of pushing that it would finally show movement! Yes, it’s kind of funny—do make it a point to watch its LIVE telecast on the Doordarshan.
When Lord resists from moving
- The King and his golden mop
The monarchy system might have been demolished by the Indian Government, but Puri still has its official “king” for Lord Jagannath would only come out from the temple after the king of Puri have swept the path himself by his mop made of pure gold!
The King and his golden mop
- Poda Pitha
After the 9 days sojourn at the Gundicha Temple, the Lords return to the temple, but stop once during the journey. Can you guess why? Well, that’s because Lord Jagannath can’t be back home without tasting his favorite sweet, Poda Pitha, a special kind of pancake made in Odisha, on the way!
- Heavy rush and injuries
Well, every year Puri would be filled with disciples from all over the world on this auspicious day who would risk their lives to pull the chariot of their beloved Lord Jagannath. Innumerable people every year are hospitalized as a result of stampede.