Friday, July 1, 2016

Prepping for Rath Yatra

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.

16 comments:

  1. Wow. I remember seeing some of it in my days in Kolkata. What an event! Wish I had a camera in those days.

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    1. I had witnessed the Yatra a couple of times earlier but never had a camera. Now when I did I got to capture something even more interesting :D

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  2. Neat post! And yes, lucky of you to be visiting Odisha at this time :)

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    1. Thanks Ginni and Yay I could visit odisha now! :D

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  3. I believe the folklore attached to the all the festivals and the festivals themselves are metaphors to make us understand the values and principles of life...kind of moral science we used to have in school...but more interesting :D

    Anyhow, let me keep aside the philosophy, Rath Yatra is fascinating in so many ways. It's grand, and I'm yet to experience its glory at Puri. The only Rath yatra I've witnessed was in Mira Road, which is nice but just a fraction of what Puri hosts.

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    1. So true!! Just like you mentioned - every story of history has so much to it and is so interesting! :)

      I have been attending the one in Mira Road for almost 15 years now but nothing beats the one in Puri! After all original is original :D

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    2. Rightly said...one can not capture the essence of the original. :)

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  4. Great that you could visit Puri and capture the making of the chariots.
    Thanks for sharing :)
    Many facts are associated with the Ratha Jatra and Puri Temple.
    It's said that Gundicha Temple is Lord Jagannath's aunt's place.

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    1. Gundicha temple has its on set of parallel beliefs and history! :)

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  5. Its really very nice to go through this post and to experience the making of Rath. shot are suiting perfectly with post.

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  6. Just two days left for the Gundicha Yatra this year.

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  7. Fabulous! The chariots are so colorful! :) I have heard so much about the Rath Yatra. The idols are so vibrant! :) Hope to see it live someday.

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    1. Thanks Divsi :)
      The chariots are very colourful and a lot of work is done on these huge chariots.

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