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June 1, 2012

Jagannath Rath Yatra in Puri...

Puri Jagannath Rath Yatra 2013

Also referred to as the Gundicha Jatra, Ghosa Jatra, Navadina Jatra or Dasavatara Jatra, the Puri Jagannath Rath Yatra, the most important festival of Lord Jagannath, starts on 10th July 2013, and lasts 10 days in the beach-city of Puri which is about 65 kms south of the Odisha State Capital –Bhubaneshwar. Puri ranks one of the top places in India for Hindu pilgrimage and Religious Tourism.

This Rath Yatra is one of the most colourful, elaborate and grand Hindu festivals in India which attracts millions of devotees from all over India as well as abroad as this Yatra occurs just once a year and because this Darshan is considered very auspicious.


The Yatra comprises one of the largest processions of the world with millions of people pulling and following 50-foot high ornate and decorated wooden chariots on which Lord Jagannath – the Lord of the Universe, Lord Balabhadra and Goddess Subhadra are paraded throughout the city to give Darshan to all their Devotees. It is said that those who participate in the Jagannath Yatra in Puri earn their ‘passage’ to heaven.

For 15 days prior to the Yatra, 'Snana Pumima' marks the beginning of the Jagannath festival, when the three deities - Lord Jagannath, Lord Balabhadra and Devi Subhadra are given a bath post which they are left in isolation for 15 days - called the period of 'Anabasara' when no public worship is performed. Post 15 days of isolation, the Gods and the Goddess are brought out of the 11thCentury-built Jagannath temple in a colourful and musical procession amidst thousands of devotees to board their respective Chariots and then begins the "Rath Yatra'.

The Chariots of the Rath Yatra deserve a special mention. The 3 towering and royal chariots resemble Lord Jagannath Temple architecture. Lord Jagannath Chariot, which is called the ‘nandighose’ is 35 feet high and has 18 solid wheels to move this heavy chariot. Lord Balabhadra’s chariot – ‘Taladwaja’ is 33 feet high and has 16 wheels and Goddess Shubhadra’s Chariot – ‘Devadalan’ is 30 feet high and has 14 wheels. New chariots are made each year but with the same ancient chariot-specifications. Thousands of devotees pull the chariots by long ropes and thousands struggle to merely touch the Chariot or pull the rope as it is considered lucky and prosperous for the devotee. 

The whole Rath Yatra festival of millions surrounding the 3 deities in a large procession amidst loud beating of percussion instruments, gongs and blowing conch shells is a fascinating experience even for non-Hindus and is also the only chance for non-Hindus to see these 3 deities as non-Hindu devotees aren’t allowed into the Jagannath Temple.

As millions of pilgrim and tourists flood the Puri streets during these 10 days, visitors are to take extreme precautions when on the streets as people and lives are known to be lost in the stampede.

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