Puri: Every year on the auspicious day of Ashadh Sud 2, in early July, Rath Yatra festival is celebrated at Jagannath Temple in Puri.
The mega festival marks the journey of Lord Jagannath, Lord Balabhadra and Goddess Subhadra from their abode in Puri’s Jagannath Temple to Gundicha Temple.
This year the Jagannath Rath Yatra will be celebrated on July 4. The festival is celebrated in Ashadh Sud 2, an auspicious day which is also known as Ashad Shukla Dwitiya, and it generally falls in early July according to the Hindu Lunar Calendar.
Devotees pull the three colourfully decorated chariots which carry the three idols of the deities.
The chariots of the deities are newly built every year. Jagannath’s chariot is called Nandighosa, the chariot of Balabhadra is called Taladhwaja and that of Subhadra is called Dwarpadalana.
The total number of wheels on Lord Jagannath’s chariot are 16, Lord Balabhadra’s chariot are 14 and Subhadra’s chariot is 12.
On this day, Lord Jagannath along with Lord Balabhadra and Goddess Subhadra leave their abode in Jagannath Temple for Gundicha Temple which is a monument built in the memory of Devi Gundicha, wife of King Indradyumna who built the world famous Puri temple.
On the fourth day after Ratha Yatra, Hera Panchami is celebrated when Goddess Lakshmi visits Gundicha temple in search of Lord Jagannath. After taking rest in Gundicha Temple for 8 days, Lord Jagannath returns to his main abode. This day is known as Bahuda Yatra and is observed on the eighth day after Ratha Yatra on Dashami Tithi.
The atmosphere is electric on the ‘Bada Danda’ or the Grand Road in Puru where lakhs of devotees throng just to get a glimpse of Lord Jagannath and touch the chariots once.
Devotees from across the world take part in the Jagannath Rath Yatra festival to seek God’s blessings and fulfil their wishes. Devotees who take part in pulling the chariots are seen singing songs and mantras along with the sound of drum beatings.
Ratha Yatra, also celebrated internationally in countries like Dublin, Moscow and New York, is to commemorate Jagannath’s visit to Gundicha Temple through Mausi Maa Temple in Puri.