One of the oldest chariot festivals in the world, Puri Rath Yatra holds immense significance for devotees of Lord Jagannath. Believed to be the second-largest congregation after the famous Kumbh Mela, thousands of devotees from different regions assemble in Odisha to take part in the massive chariot pulling procession that is carried out with all rituals and great pomp and show. Also known as Gundicha Yatra, Chariot Festival, Dasavatara, and Navadina Yatra, this grand festival is a spectacle of age-old traditions that are an integral part of mythology.
This 11-day festival is celebrated in the month of Ashadha as per the Indian calendar which usually falls around July. It begins from Ashadha Shukla dwitiya and continues until Ashadha Shukla Dashmi. Jagannath Rath Yatra is marked by millions of devotees who visit Puri every year to seek blessings from Lord Jagannath and to get their wishes fulfilled. During this grand festival, the idols of Lord Jagannath, Lord Balbhadra, and their sister Subhadra are taken out from Jagannath temple every year in order to shower blessings on their devotees. This large congregation of devotees pulling three massive chariots is indeed a sight to behold. With many bare-eyed facts attached to it, Puri Rath Yatra fascinates the nonbelievers too.
Check out the unknown facts of Puri Rath Yatra that are listed below!
Take a look at these interesting facts of the world-famous Puri Rath Yatra that will compel you to be a part of this procession that is carried out between Jagannath Temple and the Gundicha shrine.
Having been mentioned in ancient scriptures such as Brahma Purana, Padma Purana, and many more, the tradition of Rath Yatra in Puri is approximately 460 years old. Every year thousands of devotees gather in Puri to pull the massive chariots of Lord Jagannath, Lord Balbhadra, and sister Subhadra with a belief that the divine sight of deities will wash off all their sins.
Around 1400 carpenters begin the work of building three massive chariots from Akshaya Tritiya every year for this annual Rath Yatra of the Holy Trinity. The entire work is done in front of the palace of the King of Puri. This place is known as Ratha Khala which is a chariot yard. The canopies of chariots are made with 1200 meters of cloth and about 15 skilled tailors work on it. Four wooden horses are fixed in front and ancient practices like hand length instead of measuring tapes, wooden pegs, and joints instead of iron nails are used in making these chariots with complete precision. The structure, model, design, and measurements of the chariot remain the same every year which is an example of perfect artistry.
Symbolic of Lord Jagannath’s journey from Dwarka to Braj Bhoomi, Rath Yatra is a recreation of that iconic moment. As per another legend, Lord Jagannath Rath Yatra symbolises his journey with sister Subhadra in order to show her the city of Dwarka. Also, another folklore says, 11 days prior to Rath Yatra, Lord Jagannath catches high fever. Once he recovers, he travels to his Aunt’s house which is Gundicha Temple, and this journey of his is marked as Rath Yatra.
Rath Yatra begins after the King of Puri himself sweeps the chariot with a broomstick that has a gold handle. After cleaning the chariots, the King decorates it with flowers. The King also cleans the road and sprinkles sandalwood-infused water on the streets where the massive procession is carried out. This symbolises that we all are God’s servants and everyone is equal in his eyes.
The mammoth size chariots on which the three deities are carried out during Rath Yatra are not made with ordinary wood but with the wood of specific species of the neem tree that are procured from deep forests. The collection of this special wood begins from the auspicious day of Basant Panchami.
The famous Rath Yatra in Odisha is one of the few festivals in India where the unique ritual of taking out presiding deities is followed. Other festivals are Kullu Dussehra in Himachal Pradesh and Float Festival in Madurai where the deities are carried out during processions. It is a rare sight, albeit and which is why millions of people take part in it.
For many who have attended Rath Yatra, this interesting fact must be well known because the chariot of Lord Jagannath refuses to move despite the mammoth efforts of thousands of devotees. Once the Lord is pleased, the chariot moves swiftly throughout the journey. According to the strange local folklore, Lord Jagannath is believed to be a friend of the servitors and he doesn’t allow the chariot to move until they abuse him.
Ever since Rath Yatra has begun, the day has registered rainfall without fail. Even if there is no speculation of rain for days before Rath Yatra, it still rains every year on this auspicious day. According to the records, there hasn’t been a single Rath Yatra that hasn’t received rainfall.
The grandeur of this massive chariot festival of India can also be witnessed in the beautifully adorned deities. According to the rituals, every year the deities are decorated with gold ornaments that weigh over 208 kg.
As per the rituals, Lord Jagannath catches a high fever before Rath Yatra. Observing this period as his resting time, the Jagannath temple remains closed for the visitors for 11 days prior to yatra so that the Lord fully recovers.
Looking at the grandeur of this chariot festival of Odisha, the Britishers during their rule named it ‘Juggernaut' which means a huge, powerful, and overwhelming force. Also, Ratha Yatra has become an international festival as it is celebrated in cities like Dublin, New York, Toronto, and many others.
Ques 1. When did the Puri Rath Yatra start for the first time?
Ans 1. As per the iconographic evidence, the Puri Jagannath Yatra started in 13th or 14th CE during the Ganga Dynasty era.
Ques 2. Who started the Puri Rath Yatra?
Ans 2. Puri Rath Yatra was started by King Chodan Dev in the 12th Century.
Ques 3.What is the significance of Puri Jagannath Yatra?
Ans 3. Puri Jagannath Yatra holds a lot of significance in the minds of ardent Hindu devotees. It is believed that Lord Jagannath is taken out in a chariot along with his brother Balbhadra and sister Subhadra to the famous Gundicha Mata Temple, where they rest for next seven days. This festival has now achieved international acclaim.
With many fascinating festivals in Odisha around the year, Puri Rath Yatra tops the list due to its grandeur and religious significance. Do take part in this massive congregation to witness the unbelievable facts associated with it. Book flights, hotels, and tour packages with Adotrip to get unmatched deals. With us, nothing is far!