Celebrated in remembrance of the journey of Lord Jagannath and his siblings Lord Balarama and sister Subhadra from Jagannath temple to Gundicha temple, Jagannath Puri Rath Yatra is one of the biggest festivals in India. The magnificent commemoration of the Lord's annual visit to his birthplace and aunt's home, the Rath Yatra is celebrated at the Jagannath Temple in Puri, Odisha.
According to the Odia calender, the Rath Yatra or the chariot ride begins on the second day of Shukla Paksha of the Hindu lunar month of Ashadha.
Jagannath Puri Rath Yatra 2019 has already begun at the early hours of 6 am today, initiated with the Mangala Alati, Mailama at 6:10 am, Tadapalagi and Rosa Homa at 6:30 am. The auspicious and glorious festival ends on July 15. The 12 day celebration includes the idols of Lord Jagannath, along with his elder brother Balabhadra and sister Subhadra being taken from the Jagannath temple, their home, to the Gundicha Temple - where they remain for nine days and are moved to Mausi Maa Temple, the abode of Lord Jagannath's aunt - and then to Jagannath Temple.
The wooden idols of the deities are arranged in extravagant chariots, consorted with chants that fill the air in Puri. Before the commencement of the Rath Yatra, the three idols are bathed with 109 buckets of water (Snana Pornima) and are placed in isolation till the day of the celebration (Ansara).
On the day of the grandiose day of the procession, the royal successor or Odisha conducts the Chhera Pahara - a holy ritual that transports the deities from the temple to the chariot. The ritual includes the King sweeping the chariot with a golden handled broom, decorating the chariot with flowers and sprinkling the chariot with sandalwood. This marks an overture that everyone is equal in the eyes of the lord.
Every year, three colossal chariots are made for the Rath Yatra for the community festival - which are pulled by thousands of people - bringing together people from all over the world. Irrespective of religious beliefs and differences, Rath Yatra is indeed a convergence of consensus.
Once the gods are back from their journey, they are adorned with gold before being placed in their home, the Jagannath Temple. On the last day of the journey, the rituals are wrapped up with a comical enactment involving Lord Jagannath and Goddess Lakshmi - who is furious at her husband for leaving home without informing or inviting her. The enactment ends with the Goddess finally opening the temple door for the Lord, who entreats her with sweets, allowing him entrance.
Jagannath Puri Rath Yatra 2019: Important Dates
July 4 - Sri Gundicha: Placement of the deities in the chariots and journey to Gundicha Temple and pulling of the chariots begin at 4 pm.
July 8 - Hera Panchami: Carrying the idol of Goddess Lakshmi to the Gundicha Temple.
July 12 - Bahuda Yatra: The return to the Jagannath Temple's Lion's Gate entrance and the rituals begin from noon to 2 pm.
July 13 - Suna Besha: Embellishing the deities in gold ornaments and begins at 5 pm and goes on till 11 pm.
July 15 - Niladri Bijaya: The deities are placed back in the Jagannath temple.