Ratha Yatra: Puri Chariot Festival

Jagannatha Ratha Yatra wallpaper

On the east coast of India, in Puri is celebrated every year the Rath Yatra, the journey of Krishna, here called Jagannatha, with Balabhadra and Subhadra, his brother and sister, to the mythologized mansion of a relative with millions of devotees. The festival of Jagannath Rath Yatra in Puri, in Orissa, is held every year between the end of June and beginning of July.

The devotees who accompany the three huge chariots in procession regularly exceed one million, while thousands and thousands of devotees who take turns at the bars and ropes to drag them out of the temple of Jagannath temple for 3 km until Gundicha, mythologized mansion of an aunt of Lord Jagannath i.e. Krishna and his brothers, Balabhadra and Subhadra.

Here the deities reside for a week and then return to Sri Mandira, the sacred house, the temple of departure. Being able to watch Jagannath, meeting his gaze at this juncture is considered an extraordinary grace, touching the chariot or even the ropes that drag him, corresponds to our plenary indulgence and often occur on the occasional accidents causing deaths and injuries as a result of crowds that flock. The celebrations take place, albeit to a lesser degree, at the same time in other Indian cities.

Two days before the procession to Puri, the gods are subjected to a ritual bath on the Snan See, an open platform and during the eve of the three floats are adorned and lined up outside the temple. The next morning the priests shall bear the deities covered in jewels wagons, with a solemn ceremony. The first is obviously to be placed Jagannath, Lord of the World.

At the end of the ceremony comes the placement of Raja Ganapati, the heir of the ancient kings of Puri who humbly prostrates himself in front of the wagons. Then cleans them metaphorically, with a gold handled duster and sprinkles it with water scented with sandalwood and blessed the floor. As the first devotee of the god, the king of Puri once opened the procession, sweeping the road before the passage of wagons along the way.

Today it only symbolically sprinkle the base. Only then, amid shouts of joy, thundering drums and sonar shells wagons pulled by thousands of devotees begin to move. After the weeklong stay at the temple Gundicha, the carts will go back the same way, in a procession called Ulta Rath . During the processions all barriers of caste and creed is even broken down; no one bothers to touch or be touched by others, because it is symbolic of the journey path from each to leave their insignificant lives to the link with the deity, in a communion of energy very much felt by the people of India.

Even the people of Islamic religion, in fact, actively participate in the festival: the Muslim inhabitants of the village of Narayanpur traditionally collaborate on the construction of the carts themselves. Fourteen tailors sew in Puri it covers, using more than 1200 meters of fabric, paid for in part by the local government and partly by private donors.

Legend has it that in medieval times the king of Puri, Purusottama Dev had been promised the hand of the Princess Padmavati, the daughter of Maharaja Narasimha of Kanchi. The Maharaja invited to attend the festival, declined the invitation by sending a minister in his place. After seeing the king and future husband humbly sweeping the street in front of the chariots of the gods, the minister presented to return a poor relation to its Maharajas and the wedding was canceled.

Purushottama Deva, furious, then called to rally the troops and attacked Kanchi, but was resoundingly defeated. Upon returning home, the young king consulted a well-known holy man, particularly devoted and near Jagannath, the ascetic and admonished him thus: the god had not asked for permission before attacking Kanchi, as he thought, therefore he can win.

So Purushottama Deva went to the temple where he spent the night alone, prostrate at the feet of the deity. The next morning he came resolved to summon his ministers in a new council of war; a voice whispered that he had in fact Krishna-Jagannath and his brother Balabhadra would fight for him. Word spread, and multitudes of men from every village in the area joined the survivors of the army. And the new expedition left.

Along the way, they came to a village where a woman named  Manika  approached the king, stating that two majestic knights had passed just before asking to be refreshed. As a pledge they had given a ring, reassuring the woman who at the sight of the king jewel in arrival would have paid for the supplies provided to them. The king immediately recognized the ring as the Ratna Mudrika worn by the idol of Lord Jagannath temple.

Purushottama Deva awarded the woman with the ownership of the entire village, which has since been called Manikapatna , and proceeded to Kanchi, where this time easily defeated the superb maharajas. He captured the princess and carried her to Puri, ordered him to be given in marriage to a scavenger authentic (profession traditionally reserved for the outcasts, the untouchables). But a wise minister postponed with every excuse punishment. He spent an entire year and came back the day of the Rath Yatra.

While the king was sweeping the street in front of the tanks during the sacred ceremony, the minister went to meet with the princess, he put a garland of flowers around his neck wedding and said, You are the best scavenger that I could meet you, Sire. The king, who had always been secretly in love with the young man promised to him, he consented to the marriage. Their son, the future King Prataparudra, became an ardent follower of the current Bhakti, the total devotion to Krishna, who spread all over the continent

Called Pahandi, sitting on three huge chariots, rich decorations, which are drawn by hundreds and thousands of devotees to the Great Road, Bada Danda, which leads to the temple Gundicha, about three miles away to the north, where Jagannatha stay for nine days, after which the gods return to their dwelling, in the same way. The return trip is called Bahuda Yatra. Also known as Gundicha Yatra, Ghosa Yatra, Navadina Yatra, Dasavatara Yatra and a variety of other names, the Ratha Yatra is one of the glorious Hindu festival of enormous proportions.

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