Thursday, July 04, 2019

Shri Jagannatha Ratha Yahtra

The Significance of Ratha Yathra


“Rathe Tu Vamanam Dristwah Punarjanmam Na Vidyate”
Once you see Lord on the chariot there is no rebirth after
The famous festival of  Puri, the Ratha Yathra, is held on the second day of the bright fortnight of Ashada. This is the day when Lord Sri Jagannatha, Lord Sri Baalabhdra, Devi Sri Subhadhra along with Sri Sudarsana come out of the famous Sri Mandhira and give Darsan to their devotees from all around the world on the way to their aunt Gundica’s place which is popularly known as Gundicha Mandhira.
Ratha Yathra is also known as Gundicha Yathra (named for the Gundicha Mandhir where the procession ends) and Ghosha Yathra. On the day of the festival, before Ratha Yathra starts, all the Deities are taken out of the Temple and each Deity is placed on its own specially designed chariot, kept near the main gate of the main Temple called the Lion Gate. The Deities are carried to the chariots in a uniquely traditional way. All the four Deities, first Sri Sudarsan, then Sri Baalabhadhra, Sri Subhadhra, and Lord Sri Jagannatha are moved to the chariot by the priests or devotees in an enchanting way. They are rocked forward and backward, moving from pillow to pillow as they approach the chariots and finally ascend the ramp leading to their seats. This rocking motion is called Pahandi.
The name of Lord Sri Jagannatha's chariot is Nandhighosh. It has 16 wheels and is covered in red and yellow material. Lord Sri Baalabhadhra's chariot is called Taladhvaja, has 14 wheels, and is covered with red and green material. The third chariot, Devadalana, belongs to Devi Sri Subhadhra. It has 12 wheels and a red and black canopy. Devi Sri Subhadhra shares Her chariot with Sudarsan, who sits by Her side.
There are four other Deities who also ride on the chariots, making a total of seven Deities. Lord Sri Jagannatha sits with Madhanmohan, who represents Lord  Sri Jagannatha Himself. Lord Sri Baalabhadhra is accompanied by two small, brass deities of Sri Rama and Sri Krishna.

The chariots are pulled for about three kilometers down Puri's Grand Road from Lord Sri Jagannatha's Temple to the Gundicha Mandhir or Gundicha Ghar. If one or more chariots don't make it all the way, it is simply moved the following day. The fifth day of the festival is known as Hera Panchami where one of Sri Jagannatha Swamy's two wives, Goddess Sri Mahaa Lakshmi, goes to Gundicha Mandhir to see Her husband. On the ninth day, the chariots are pulled back to the area near the Lion Gate. On the evening of the tenth day (the eleventh day of the bright fortnight of Ashadha, also Hari Sayan Ekadasi), the Deities are dressed in golden garments adorned with golden decorations. The next day, another important ritual, Adharapna Bhog, is performed. On that day, a specially prepared sweet drink is offered to the Deities. There is a procession on the evening of the next day, wherein the Deities are taken back into the Temple. This ceremony draws a large crowd of worshipers.