|The Shree Temple aka Jagannath Temple|
One of the largest religious festivals of India is just around the corner and yesterday, I got a glimpse of some of the preparation that goes into it. Rath or Ratha Yatra would take place on 6th of July this year and the holy city of Puri in Odisha, India, is all geared up for it.
|Ratha Yatra (source)|
Rath Yatra is the annual cart festival of Shri Jagannath of Puri with his siblings, Balabhadra and Subhadra, to Gundicha Temple - which is believed to be King Indradyumna’s wife’s house. According to legends and records of Skandh Purana since King Indradyumna got celestial directions from lord himself to set up a separate house for the avatar of the god he had been praying to, he did so without any questions. But the queen, unhappy with the lord living her place, requested him to stay back. Due to the devotion shown by the king and the queen over time, Lord respected the queen’s request and promised to spend a fortnight every year at her place. Hence every year Jagannath makes a trip to Gundicha Temple along with his siblings on grand chariots. Since the chariots are driven in open publically and across Bada Danda of the great avenue of Puri, it is a public spectacle as no one is restricted from being a part of this procession. (A lot of people and communities are barred from entering the Puri Temple.)
|Build Build Build Away, Locals don't even stop and stare!|
During Rath Yatra, Puri sees massive footfall of devotees, ranging in lakhs, all just to get a glimpse of god or touch the chariots during the procession. According to folklore, Jagannath is considered to be a living god, lying in a dormant state with an object called the bramhapadartha (the believed life force of the lord), trapped in a limbless form till the end point of Kalyug. Due to the belief of him being a living god, devotees believe a glimpse of him during this procession would lead to moksh (salvation) and give them spiritual power.
|Artisans at work|
Folklore or belief, mythology or truth – irrespective of what and how the story came into being, Rath Yatra is celebrated worldwide and the most extravagant event happens in Puri where Bada Danda goes vehicle free days before the event and artisans from all over the state come down to the town and work endlessly on the chariots which are remade every year, with specific number of wooden logs, specifically for this Yatra. While Jagannath’s chariot is made out of 832 pieces of wood, Balabhadra’s has 763 pieces of wood and Subhadra’s chariot has 539 pieces of wood. Like everything related to Puri Jagannath, even the making of the chariots is pretty particular.
|Count the wood, Guess whose is this?|
I would not be able to attend the Rath Yatra this year, but luckily I got a glimpse of the chariot making! I have seen Rath Yatra earlier but not recently. Guess I will be able to witness this huge festival someday again, but till then I would remember today – the day I saw the giant chariots without any hustle and with no interference. Rare experience!
|Looks all ready now!|
P.S. All the photos of this post are taken by cellphone since I could not carry the camera in Bada Danda area. All pics are personal unless source specified.