Millions of devotees thronged the coastal town of Puri as chariots of the presiding deities Lord Balabhadra, Lord Jagannath and Devi Subhadra were pulled from their 12th century abode during the annual Rath Yatra on July 10, 2013 (Wednesday).
Chariots were taken in a spectacular procession to Sri Gundicha Temple/Mausi Maa Temple, considered to be the home of the deities’ aunt, along the three-km-long Grand Road. By 9 am, devotees packed themselves into every conceivable space near the temple, their eyes fixed on its entrance point. Several servitors carried the deities from the sanctum sanctorum of the temple swaying them rhythmically in a ritual described as ‘Pahandi.’ Prior to this a number of special rituals like ‘Mangala Arati’ and ‘Mailam’ were held. Descending from the Ratna Sinhasana (the be-jewelled throne), the three deities were taken out of the temple down the 22 steps known as baisi Pahacha through the Lion’s gate. Devotees danced ecstatically and cries of ‘Jai Jagannath’ and ‘Haribol’ rent the air.
The chariots did not reach the destination by evening and hence pulling of the chariots will resume on Thursday. The return of the Rath (known as Bahuda Yatra) will take place on July 18, 2013.
About the Rath Yatra
‘Snana Pumima’ marks the beginning of the Rath Yatra festival. On this day the three deities – Lord Jagannath, Lord Balabhadra and Devi Subhadra take prolonged bath on an open platform known as ‘Snana Bedi’, Then they retire for 15 days popularly called the period of ‘Anabasara’ and remain in isolation. During this period, no public worship is performed. After 15 days of isolation, the Gods come out of the temple in a colourful procession to board their respective Chariots and thereafter begins the journey known as “Rath Yatra’.
The deities are taken on a journey of around 3 km in stupendous and decorated chariots for sojourn to the Sri Gundicha Temple till the return Car Festival which is held 9 days later.
The chariot of Lord Jagannath, known as ‘Nandighose’, is 23 cubits high and has 18 wheels. The chariot of Balabhadra, which is 22 cubits in height and has 16 wheels, is named ‘Taladwaja’. ‘Devadalan’ the chariot of Subhadra, is 21 cubits in height and has 14 wheels. The chariots are made anew every year in accordance with strict and ancient specifications and are pulled by several thousand devotees at a time. In terms of splendor and fervent devotion, the Car Festival is one of the world’s most incredible spectacles.
For sthala puranam by Sri U.Ve.Vidwan Egai VedantaDesika Thatacharya Swami, please visit http://anudinam.org/2013/07/03/puri-jagannatham-sri-jagannathar-temple-sthala-puranam/
News Courtesy: The Hindu and Video Courtesy: Doordarshan National