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Rath Yatra - A festival celebrated in honour of Lord Jagannath

The Rath Yatra or chariot festival is celebrated in honor of Lord Jagannath who is one of the ten incarnations of Lord Vishnu at Puri, Odisha. It celebrates the annual journey of Lord Jagannath with his brother Balabhadra and his sister Subhadra, as he travels from his sacred temple located in Puri to visit his aunt’s temple(Mausi Maa) located in Gundicha. The three deities are brought out of the temple in a formal and elaborate procession known as Pahandi. After the Pahandi is over, the holy chariots are swept with stately formality and ceremoniously by the Gajapati of Puri. The Rath Yatra festival is a nine-day period in which the devotees are engaged in the worship of their God and sing and dance for him.
Rath Yatra celebrated in Puri, Odisha

Three separate chariots are created with unique structures and technical design specifications. Nandighosa is the chariot of Lord Jagannath. It is a towering mammoth creation almost like a skyscraper with eighteen wheels. Taladhvaja is the chariot of Balabhadra. It is a huge artistic creation but smaller in size to that of Lord Jagannath and it contains sixteen wheels.
Devadalana is the chariot of Subhadra. It is also a towering creation but smaller than the other two and contains fourteen wheels. As per religious directions and established cultural practices, the idols and the chariots are made of wood and are refurbished after every twelve years in which new creations are established. This is called the Nabakalebara.
Rath Yatra procession

The Rath Yatra signifies a journey through life with family members. The emergence of the god from the temple is a symbol of his presence among ordinary men on earth.
It is a lesson that God is present in our hearts and minds and is manifest among us only. Thus we must respect and honor each other. The pulling of the divine chariot by congregations of devotees signifies the united force of human beings. It illustrates how the power of God can be transmitted to man and how by collective efforts man can reach God. It also instills the value of unity, plurality, and brotherhood on earth.
Lord Jagannath


Written by: Purva Bhargava Singh

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