RATHA YATRA – THE WORLD´s LARGEST & OLDEST CHARIOT JOURNEY FESTIVAL

Rath yatra is the chariot journey or piligrimage. Ratha Yatra is an indian origin chariot journey, pilgrimage & procession festival with cultural & religious significance observed and celebrated for over 1000s of years. Ratha Yatra (Literally meaning ‘chariot journey’) also known Ratha Jatra or Chariot festival (in English) is a Hindu festival celebrated in Odisha for Lord Jagannath and associated Hindu deities in the state of Odisha, India. Believed to be the oldest Rath Yatra or chariot procession in the world, this festival marks the annual ceremonial procession of Lord Jagannath, his elder brother Balabhadra and younger sister Subhadra, from their home temple to another temple, located in what is believed to be their aunt’s home. Ratha yatra is observed & celebrated globally in over 100 cities worldwide from china to chile

THE RATH YATRA OR THE CHARIOT JOURNEY IN PURI INDIA WITH THE THREE CHARIOTS OF JAGANNATH, BALABHADRA & SUBHADRA

WHAT IS RATHA YATRA / RATHA JATRA


RATH YATRA IS THE CHARIOT JOURNEY OR PILIGRIMAGE


RATHA YATRA IS AN INDIAN ORIGIN CHARIOT JOURNEY, PILIGRIMAGE & PROCESSION FESTIVAL WITH CULTURAL & RELIGIOUS SIGNIFICANCE


RATHA YATRA IS OBSERVED & CELEBRATED GLOBALLY IN OVER 100 CITIES WORLDWIDE FROM CHINA TO CHILE


THE BIGGEST OF THESE CHARIOT JOURNEY PROCESSIONS TAKE PLACE IN PURI IN THE EASTERN INDIAN STATE OF ORISSA WHILE THE OTHER ONE TAKES PLACE IN THE WESTERN INDIAN STATE OF GUJARAT


  • Ratha Yatra (Literally meaning ‘chariot journey’) also known Ratha Jatra or Chariot festival (in English) is a Hindu festival celebrated in Odisha for Lord Jagannath and associated Hindu deities in the state of Odisha, India
  • It is the oldest Ratha Yatra taking place in India and the World, whose descriptions can be found in Brahma Purana, Padma Purana, and Skanda Purana and Kapila Samhita
  • Believed to be the oldest Rath Yatra or chariot procession in the world, this festival marks the annual ceremonial procession of Lord Jagannath, his elder brother Balabhadra and younger sister Subhadra, from their home temple to another temple, located in what is believed to be their aunt’s home
  • The festival commemorates Jagannath’s annual visit to Gundicha Temple via Mausi Maa Temple (maternal aunt’s home) near Saradha Bali, Puri
  • The image of Jagannath – along with the other two associated deities, is ceremoniously brought out of the inner sanctum (Garbhagriha) of his chief temple in Jagannath Puri
  • They are placed in a chariot which is then pulled by numerous volunteers to the Gundicha Temple, (located at a distance of nearly 3 km or 1.9 mi)
  • Coinciding with the Ratha Yatra festival at Puri, similar processions are organized at Jagannath temples throughout the world
  • During the festive public procession of Jagannath in Puri lakhs of devotees visit Puri to see Lord Jagannath in chariot
  • The size, pomp, grandeur and splendour of this procession has even contributed a word to the English dictionary : Juggernaut
  • Western impressions of Ratha Yatra as a display of unstoppable force are the origin of the English word juggernaut
  • The festival is unique in that three Hindu gods are taken out of their temples in a colourful procession to meet their devotees
  • The biggest of these processions takes place in Puri in the eastern state of Orissa, while the other takes place in the western state of Gujarat

WHAT IS THE ETYMOLOGY / NOMENCLATURE OF THE WORD ´´RATHA YATRA / RATHA JATRA“?


Ratha-jatra is derived from two Sanskrit words – 

  • Ratha (रथ) which means chariot or carriage

and 

  • Yatra or jātrā which means journey or pilgrimage

Other names for the festival are ratha jatra or chariot festival


THE KEY CONNECTION BETWEEN THE TWO MAIN & KEY RATHA YATRAS

THE ONE AT PURI ODISHA &

THE ONE AT AHMEDABAD, GUJARAT


 
  • Dwarka in Gujarat – where Krishna’s half-cremated body is believed to have been immersed into the ocean – is located on the west coast of India and Puri in Orissa- where it is said to have re-emerged as a log – is located in the east
  • About 500 hundred years ago, a travelling Hindu saint and temple priest of a Hanuman temple in Gujarat, Shree Sarangdasji, arrived in Puri to offer prayers at the historic Jagannathan temple
  • While sleeping at the temple guest house, it is believed that he received visionary instruction from Lord Jagannathan to go back to Ahmedabad in Gujarat and install three idols of Jagannathan, Balbhadra and Subhadra there
  • Carrying out the instructions received in his dream, he founded the Ahmedabad Jagannathan Temple
  • By doing so, he sanctified the two locations – one where Krishna’s mortal remains began their journey from the west, to their transformation as Puri’s Lord Jagannathan in the east
  • About 142 years ago, one of the founder’s disciples, Shree Narsinhdasji Maharaj, began the Ahmedabad Rath Yatra
  • The deities on chariots, pulled by elephants and humans, replicate their own journey in Puri, completing a set of rituals that sanctify the two places where Krishna’s mortal remains are believed to have come to rest

HOW IS RATH YATRA FESTIVAL OBSERVED / CELEBRATED ?


  • RATHA YATRA OR RATHA JATRA is a journey in a chariot accompanied by the public
  • It typically refers to a procession (journey) of deities, people dressed like deities, or simply religious saints and political leaders
  • The term appears in medieval texts of India such as the Puranas, which mention the Rathajatra of Surya (Sun god), of Devi (Mother goddess), and of Vishnu
  • These chariot journeys have elaborate celebrations where the individuals or the deities come out of a temple accompanied by the public journeying with them through the Ksetra (region, streets) to another temple or to the river or the sea
  • Sometimes the festivities include returning to the sacrosanctum of the temple
  • RATHA YATRA, the Festival of Chariots: Chariots of Shri Jagannath is celebrated every year at Puri, the temple town in Odisha, on the second (dwitiya) day of shukla pakhya (waxing cycle of moon) of Āshādha Māsa (3rd month of Odia calendar)
  • The presiding deities of the Jagannath Temple, Puri’s main temple, Lord Jagannath, Lord Balabhadra and Goddess Subhadra, with the celestial wheel- Sudarshana Chakra are removed from the temple in a ceremonial procession to their chariots
  • The huge, colourfully decorated chariots are drawn by multitude of devotees on the bada danda, the grand avenue to the Gundicha Temple (Gundicha– King Indradyumna’s Queen), two miles away to the North
  • On the way the chariot of Lord Jagannatha, Nandighosa waits near the crematorium of Bhakta Salabega – a Muslim devout to pay him tribute
  • On their way back from the Gundicha Temple, the three deities stop for a while near the Mausi Maa Temple (Aunt’s abode) and have an offering of the Poda Pitha, which is a special type of pancake supposed to be the Lord’s favourite
  • After a stay for seven days, the deities return to their abode

 

DO THE DATES OF THE RATHA YATRA FALL ON FIXED DATES EVERY YEAR ?


NO

ALL THE DATES ASSOCIATED WITH THE CHARIOT JOURNEY FESTIVAL FROM STARTING THE CONSTRUCTION OF 3 CHARIOTS TO THE CHARIOT JOURNEY ITSELF VARY BY FEW DAYS EVERY YEAR AS IT FOLLOWS THE INDIAN LUNAR CALENDAR


HOW LONG IS THE RATHA YATRA ?


RATHA YATRA IS CELEBRATED OVER MANY DAYS BETWEEN

RATHA YATRA FESTIVAL BEGINS ON ASHADHA SHUKLA DWITIYA
RATHA YATRA FESTIVAL ENDS ON ASHADHA SHUKLA DASHAMI

IS RATHA YATRA OBSERVED & CELEBRATED ONLY IN INDIA ?


NO


IT HAPPENS ACROSS MORE THAN 100+ PLACES OF THE WORLD FROM CHINA TO CHILE


  • The Ratha Yatra festival has become a common sight in most major cities of the world since 1968 which now happens on an annual basis in places all over the world in over 108 cities
  • Some of the cities where Ratha Yatra happens yearly include ; Moscow, New York, Houston, Atlanta, London, Rome, Zürich, Kolkata, Mumbai, Karachi, Berlin, Heidelberg, Cologne, Florence, Wroclaw, Sydney, Perth, Kampala, Nairobi, Mombasa, Kisumu, Mexico City, Dublin, Belfast, Manchester, Birmingham, Alchevsk, Buenos Aires, Madrid, Stockholm, Bath, Budapest, Auckland, Melbourne, Montreal, Paris, Copenhagen, Amsterdam, Los Angeles, Toronto, Vancouver, Santiago, Tallinn, Lima, Antwerp, Sofia, Kuala Lumpur, Oslo, Zhongshan, Myitkyina, Bangkok and many other cities.
  • The Ratha Yatra in Dhamrai, Bangladesh, is one of the most important in Bangladesh

JAGANNATH PURI RATHA YATRA IN ODISHA (INDIA)


 

Rathayatra in Puri – Odisha, India

  • During the Jagannath Rath jatra, the triads are usually worshiped in the sanctum of the temple at Puri, but once during the month of Asadha (Rainy Season of Odisha, usually falling in month of June or July), they are brought out onto the Bada Danda (main street of Puri) and travel (3 km) to the Shri Gundicha Temple, in huge chariots (ratha), allowing the public to have darśana (Holy view)
  • This festival is known as Rath Jatra, meaning the journey (jatra) of the chariots (ratha)
  • The Rathas are huge wheeled wooden structures, which are built anew every year and are pulled by the devotees
  • The chariot for Jagannath is approximately 45 feet high and 35 feet square and takes about 2 months to construct
  • The artists and painters of Puri decorate the chariots and paint flower petals and other designs on the wheels, the wood-carved charioteer and horses, and the inverted lotuses on the wall behind the throne
  • The Ratha-Jatra is also termed as the Shri Gundicha jatra

JAGANNATH PURI RATHA YATRA LEGENDS


WHY OR WHAT IS THE REASON FOR THE CHARIOT JOURNEY OR PILIGRIMAGE AS PER LEGENDS ?


  • Legend says it always rains on the day of the procession
  • For a whole week before, the temple doors are shut and no one is allowed inside, because it is believed that the sibling deities have a fever after bathing in the sun with 108 pitchers of water
  • To break their fever needs a change of setting – which is why they go to their aunt’s home for a few days

WHAT IS THE LEGEND OF THE SIBLING DEITIES


WHY OR WHAT IS THE REASON FOR THESE 3 DEITIES ARE MADE FROM WOOD, CLOTH & RESIN AND ARE WITH LARGE HEADS & NO ARMS ?


UNLIKE THE ORNATE CAREFULLY CRAFTED METAL OR STONE IDOLS GENERALLY FOUND ELSEWHERE ELSE ?


  • Legend 1 is that of an arrogant Indrayumna, King of Puri in the east, who tried to steal the Hindu god Krishna’s heart
  • It had been immersed in the legendary Dwarka sea after his cremation and had reappeared to the tribes people of the place as an idol
  • When Indrayumna tried to claim its possession – the idol disappeared
  • The repentant king sought absolution from Krishna by sanctifying him in another form
  • Another legend is that of how Krishna’s grief-stuck siblings – his elder brother Balabhadra and younger sister Subhadra- rushed into the Dwarka sea carrying his half-cremated body
  • At the same moment, King Indrayumna dreamed that Krishna’s body had floated back up on his shores as a log
  • So the two legends merge here: Indrayumna decided to build a temple to house the log
  • His next task was to find someone to craft the idols from it
  • Legends say that Vishwakarma, God’s own architect, arrived as an old carpenter
  • He agreed to carve the idols, but on the condition that he was not to be disturbed
  • However, when he did not emerge from his workshop for weeks, going without food, water or rest, a worried and impatient King threw the door open
  • At the time the images were only half-finished – but the carpenter disappeared
  • Still, believing the idols to be made from the very body of God, the King sanctified them and and placed them in the temple
  • When the deities disintegrate, they are remade in the same half-done image with new wood every few years
  • They were last remade in 2015

DESCRIBE THE 3 CHARIOTS OF THE RATHA YATRA


THE 3 CHARIOTS – THE CONSTRUCTION


  • The three chariots of Jagannath, Balabhadra and Subhdra are newly constructed every year with wood of specified trees like phassi, dhausa, etc.
  • They are customarily brought from the ex-princely state of Dasapalla by a specialist team of carpenters who have hereditary rights and privileges for the same
  • The logs are traditionally set afloat as rafts in the river Mahanadi
  • These are collected near Puri and then transported by road
  • The three chariots are decorated as per the unique scheme prescribed and followed for centuries stand on the Bada Danda, the Grand Avenue
  • The construction of the chariots starts on Akshaya Trutiya, the third day of the bright fortnight of Vaisakha, with ritual fire worship
  • This takes place in front of the palace of the King of Puri and opposite the main office of the Puri temple
  • On this day, the new agricultural season starts and farmers start plowing their fields
  • This day also marks the beginning of the summer festival of the deities, also known as the sandalwood festival or Chandan Yatra, which lasts for three weeks
  • The chariots are lined across the wide avenue in front of the temple close to its eastern entrance, which is also known as the Sinhadwara or the Lion’s Gate
  • Around each of the chariots are nine Parsva devatas, painted wooden images representing different deities on the chariots’ sides
  • Each chariot has a charioteer (Sarathi) and four horses
  • The chariots are constructed over 42 days from over 4000 pieces of wood by the only family that has the hereditary rights to make them

THE 3 CHARIOTS – THE DETAILS


CHARIOT DETAILS JAGANNATH BALABHADRA SUBHADRA
NAME OF THE CHARIOTS NANDIGHOSHA TALADHWAJA DARPADALANA
ALERNATE NAMES OF THE CHARIOTS

GARUDADHWAJA KAPILADHWAJA

LANGALADHWAJA

DEVADALANA PADMADHWAJA

 CHARIOT IMAGE
 
 
 
NUMBER OF WHEELS 16 14 12
TOTAL NUMBER OF WOODEN PIECES USED 832 763 593
CHARIOT HEIGHT 44′ 2″ 43′ 3″ 42′ 3″
CHARIOT LENGTH & BREADTH 34’6″ x 34’6″ 33′ x 33′ 31’6″ x 31’6″

COLOURS OF THE CANOPIES

RED, YELLOW

(YELLOW – associated with Lord Vishnu)

RED, BLUISH GREEN

RED, BLACK

(BLACK associated with the Goddess)

CHARIOT GUARDIAN GARUDA VASUDEV JAYADURGA
CHARIOTEER Daruka Matali Arjuna
FLAG NAME Trailokyamohini Unnani Nadambika
FLAG EMBLEM SUDARSHAN CHAKRA PALM TREE  
NAME OF THE HORSES
  1. Shankha
  2. Balahaka
  3. Suweta
  4. Haridashwa
  1. Tribra
  2. Ghora
  3. Dirghasharma
  4. Swornanava
  1. Rochika
  2. Mochika
  3. Jita
  4. Aparajita
COLOUR OF THE HORSES WHITE BLACK RED
NAME OF CHARIOT ROPE Sankhachuda Nagini Basuki Naga Swarnachuda Nagini
ACCOMPANYING DEITY Madanmohan Ramakrishna Sudarshana
GATEKEEPERS (DVARAPALA)
  1. Jaya
  2. Vijaya
  1. Nanda
  2. Sunanda
  1. Ganga
  2. Jamuna
Nine parshvadevata (Subsidiary deities)
  1. Panchamukhi Mahabir (Hanuman)
  2. Harihara
  3. Madhusudana (Vishnu)
  4. Giridhar (Krishna)
  5. Pandu Narasingha
  6. Chitamani Krishna
  7. Narayana (Vishnu)
  8. Chatra Bhanga Rabana (Rama)
  9. Rama seated on Hanuman
  1. Ganesha
  2. Kartikeya
  3. Sarvamangala
  4. Pralambari (Balarama)
  5. Halayudha (Balarama)
  6. Mrityunjaya (Shiva)
  7. Natamvara (Shiva)
  8. Mukteswar (Shiva)
  9. Sheshadeva
  1. Chandi
  2. Chamunda
  3. Ugratara
  4. Banadurga (Durga)
  5. Shulidurga (Durga)
  6. Varahi
  7. Shyamakali
  8. Mangala
  9. Vimala

JAGANNATH PURI RATHA YATRA CUSTOMS

BEFORE & PRIOR TO THE RATH YATRA


CHANDANA YATRA (THE SANDALWOOD FESTIVAL)

&

SNANA YATRA (THE BATHING JOURNEY FESTIVAL)


The 3 RATHA YATRA chariots under construction
  • The construction of the chariots starts on Akshaya Trutiya, the third day of the bright fortnight of Vaisakha, with ritual fire worship
  • This takes place in front of the palace of the King of Puri and opposite the main office of the Puri temple
  • On this day, the new agricultural season starts and farmers start plowing their fields
  • This day also marks the beginning of the summer festival of the deities, also known as the sandalwood festival or Chandan Yatra, which lasts for three weeks
  • In this festival, the representative images of the presiding deities are taken out in colorful processions and given a ceremonial boat ride in the Narendra pokhari / tank every day
  • In an interesting demonstration of the assimilative character of the Jagannatha cult, Madanmohana and Rama-Krishna, representing Jagannatha & Balarama partake in the festival with the representatives’ images of the presiding deities of five main Shiva temples of Puri
  • These are curiously known as Pancha Pandava, the five brothers of the Mahabharata story
  • Later the deities have a ritual bath in a small temple in the middle of the tank, in stone tubs filled with water, sandalwood paste, scents, and flowers
  •  

THIS SANDALWOOD FESTIVAL CULMINATES IN THE SNANA YATRA – THE BATHING FESTIVAL ON THE FULL MOON DAY OF THE MONTH OF JESTHA


  • On this day, the presiding deities descend from their seats on an elevated platform in the sanctum sanctorum(Garbha gruha), the bejeweled throne
  • They are bathed in 108 pots of water brought from the suna kua, the golden well and assume the elephant form on the special platform, close to the Eastern boundary wall of the temple
  • From that day the deities remain in symbolic and ritual convalescence for about two weeks
  • They are barred from the view of the ordinary devotees
  • Only three special patta chitras, traditional Oriya paintings of natural colors on cloth stiffened with starch, known as Anasara Pattis, are strung on a bamboo screen hiding the deities from public view, can be seen by the public
  • During this period, the deities are given only roots, leaves, berries and fruits to cure them of their indisposition
  • This ritual is a reminder of the strong tribal elements in the genesis and evolution of the Jagannatha cult
  • The progeny of Lalita, daughter of the original tribal worshipper Biswabasu, chieftain of hunters, and the Brahmin priest Vidyapati, are known as daitapatis or daitas
  • They have the almost exclusive privilege of serving the Lord during the convalescence and through the entire period of Ratha Jatra or the Festival of Chariots

JAGANNATH PURI RATHA YATRA CUSTOM

DURING THE RATHA YATRA


CHERA PAHARA (SWEEPING WITH WATER)

DURING THE RATHA YATRA


  • The most significant ritual associated with the Ratha Yatra is the chhera pahara
  • During the festival, the Gajapati King wears the outfit of a sweeper and sweeps all around the deities and chariots in the Chera Pahara (sweeping with water) ritual
  • The Gajapati King cleanses the road before the chariots with a gold-handled broom and sprinkles sandalwood water and powder with utmost devotion
  • As per the custom, although the Gajapati King has been considered the most exalted person in the Kalingan kingdom, he still renders the menial service to Jagannath
  • This ritual signified that under the lordship of Jagannath, there is no distinction between the powerful sovereign Gajapati King and the most humble devotee
  • Chera pahara is held on two days, on the first day of the Ratha Jatra, when the deities are taken to garden house at Mausi Maa Temple and again on the last day of the festival, when the deities are ceremoniously brought back to the Shri Mandir
  • As per another ritual, when the deities are taken out from the Shri Mandir to the Chariots in Pahandi Vijay
  •  
  • In the Ratha Jatra, the three deities are taken from the Jagannath Temple in the chariots to the Gundicha Temple, where they stay for nine days
  • Thereafter, the deities again ride the chariots back to Shri Mandir in bahuda Jatra
  • On the way back, the three chariots halt at the Mausi Maa Temple and the deities are offered Poda Pitha, a kind of baked cake which are generally consumed by the people of Odisha

JAGANNATH PURI RATHA YATRA CUSTOM

DURING THE RATHA YATRA


HERA PANCHAMI (TO SEE & VISIT ON THE FIFTH DAY)


THE GRAND FIGHT BETWEEN LORD JAGANNATH & GODDESS MAHALAKSHMI

DURING THE RATHA YATRA


  • Hera Panchami is a ritual observed during the period of Rath Yatra in the Grand Jagannath Temple of Puri
  • It is known as a ritual of Goddess Lakshmi
  • The fifth day from Rath Yatra, i.e., the fifth day in bright fortnight of Ashadha is known as the Hera Panchami
  • During Ratha Yatra – lord Jagannath comes out on a divine outing with his brother Sri Balabhadra and sister Maa Subhadra along with his divine weapon Sri Sudarshana, leaving behind His wife Mahalaxmi
  • Lord Jagannath along with his siblings leaves for a vacation to his aunt’s place and his consort Mahalakshmi left behind in the main temple
  • While leaving he had promised that he would return back the next day, but time passed by and he never came back, nor did he give any information
  • After the 5th Day, she became impatient and hence decided to visit the Gundicha temple to see if everything was ok
  • So on the night of the 5th day, the representative idol of Goddess Mahalakshmi (known as Subarna Mahalakshmi) is made to leave for the Gundicha temple in a beautifully decorated palanquin via Bada Danda (the Grand Road) in a colorful procession in pomp and splendor, accompanied by her servitors
  • She wants to meet Lord Jagannath and to ask him why he had not returned yet
  • The people & servitors who are part of the procession of Goddess, sing the Hera Panchami song
  • This song expresses Goddess Mahalakshmi’s anger towards her husband
  • She proceeds to the Gundicha Temple, the Adapa Mandapa in a palanquin in the form of a Subarna Mahalaxmi and threatens Him to come back to the temple at the earliest
  • After knowing that Goddess Mahalakshmi is coming to meet him with anger – Lord Jagannath asks his servitors to quickly lock the door of Gundicha Temple
  • Seeing the Goddess furious, the sevakas close the main door of the Gundicha
  • To please  her – the Lord concedes to Her by offering her agyan mala (a garland of consent)
  • Mahalaxmi returns to the main temple through the Nakachana gate
  • In a unique ritual, the Goddess orders one of her attendants to damage a part of the Nandighosa chariot
  • After having a stealthy look at her Lord – she returns to the temple, damaging a part of Jagannath’s chariot in anger and disgust
  • This incident is celebrated as Hera Panchami
  • This is what the crowd witnesses with profuse excitement.
  • The Goddess expresses her anger for the Lord
  • This is followed by her hiding behind a tamarind tree outside the Gundicha Temple
  • After some time, she escapes to her home temple in secrecy, through a separate path way known as Hera Gohri Lane
  • The unique ritual is enjoyed by lakhs of devotees of Lord Jagannath

JAGANNATH PURI RATHA YATRA CUSTOM

AFTER THE RATHA YATRA


SUNA BESHA (GOLD ATTIRE DECORATION & WORSHIP)

AFTER THE RATHA YATRA AND RETURNING BACK TO THE MAIN TEMPLE


The Suna Besha of Jagannath
  • After the chariots of the deities return to the main temple from the Gundicha temple, the deities are attired in gold ornaments and worshipped on the chariots
  • This celebration is known as Suna Besha
  • Tradition maintains that this event was first started by King Kapilendra Deb in 1460, when after returning victorious from war he donated gold to Jagannath
  • The deities are adorned with gold jewelry weighing nearly 208 kg

PAHANDI VIJAY (STEP PROCESSION)


  • ‘Pahandi’, means to ‘take a step’ and represents the way in which the gods move
  • ‘Bije’ stands for a procession of the King or the Gods, as well as the coming together of the King and the Queen at a particular place
  • One can differentiate two forms of transport during the ‘snana jatra’ (annual bathing festival) and also through the ‘ratha jatra’ (chariot procession)
  • The first form is called ‘dhadi pahandi’ (to walk in a line) – This takes place when the Gods from the temple go out to the bathing platform
  • The Gods are brought out one after the other in such that they walk in a line
  • In this form one can see all the four Gods, in a line, one after the other
  • The second form is ‘goti pahandi’ (individual moves) and this happens during the Ratha Jatra
  • In this type of ‘pahandi’, one God is brought at a time to the chariot
  • After one God is seated on the chariot, the procession of the other begins from the sanctum
  • Although, ‘Dhadi Pahandi’ (to walk in a line) and ‘Goti Pahandi’ (individual move) describe the pattern of movement of the Gods – there is considerable difference between the ‘pahandi’ of Gods
  • Shree Sudarshan and Devi Subhadra do not have arms
  • They are therefore carried in a reclining position and they do not touch the floor
  • On the other hand, Shree Balabadra and Shree Jagannath, ‘take steps’, they are put on the ground from time to time
  • A large pillow is tied on the bottom of their idols, so that they can be comfortable while landing on the floor and also not cause damage to the idols

JAGANNATH PURI RATHA YATRA CUSTOM

AFTER THE RATHA YATRA


WHAT HAPPENS TO THE CHARIOTS & ELEPHANTS AFTER THE JOURNEY ?


  • At the end of the festival, the chariots are dismantled and their wood is used as fuel in the temple kitchens – believed to be the largest in the world that cook 56 things every day and feed anywhere between 2,000 to nearly 200,000 people
  • The elephants are returned to the lands managed by the temple trusts to roam free – until the procession the following year

JAGANNATH PURI RATHA YATRA CUSTOM

NABAKALEBARA

THE RE-EMBODIMENT OF DEITY IMAGES EVERY FEW YEARS


NABAKALEBARA (NAVAKALAVERA) IS THE SYMBOLIC RECREATION OF THE WOODEN FORMS OF THE 3 DEITIES (JAGANNATH, BALABHADRA, SUBHADRA) USED IN THE ANNUAL RATHA YATRA


NABAKALEBARA IS PERFORMED DURING THE 8th, 12th or 19th YEAR AFTER THE PREVIOUS NABAKALEBARA


THE PREVIOUS ONE WAS IN 2015 & NEXT ONE IS IN 2034 AFTER 19 YEARS


IT WAS FIRST ORGANIZED IN 1575 A.D BY YADUVANSHI BJOJ KING RAMACHANDRA DEVA


NABAKALEBARA MARKS THE SYMBOLIC DEMISE & REBIRTH OF LORD JAGANNATH AT PURI

THIS EVENT INVOLVES INSTALLATION OF NEW IMAGES IN THE JAGANNATH TEMPLE & BURIAL OF THE OLD ONES IN THE TEMPLE PREMISES AT KOILI BAIKUNTHA


NABAKALEBARA – ETYMOLOGY


NABA KALEBARA ort NAVA KALEVARA is derived from two sanskrit words – 

  • NAVA which means NEW 

and 

  • KALEVARA (KALEBARA in ODIYA) which means BODY

translated as “the change of one’s physical form.”


NABAKALEBARA – TIMING


  • The year of Nabakalebara is when the full moon occurs twice during the month of Ashadha
  • Every three years in the Hindu calendar, a lunar month is excluded from the calculation to maintain a balance between lunar and solar years
  • This period is called Adhikmasa or Malamasa
  • A year with an extra month (अधिकमास or मलमास or पुरुषोत्तममास ) is considered auspicious for the ceremony, which typically occurs every twelve to nineteen years
  • The three deities undergo the process of Nabakalebara in the year in which the adhikmasa falls
  • The deities are carved from a special type of neem wood, known as daru bramha
  • Preparations for the ceremony begin in the month of Chaitra
  • The most recent ceremony was in 2015, 19 years after the 1996 ceremony

JIRNA BERA PARITYAGA

THE LEAVING OF THE OLD DEITY & CONSECERATION OF THE NEW


  • As a person puts on new garments and gives up the old, the soul accepts new material bodies and gives up old, useless ones
  • According to temple rituals, the deities are changed. Made from the neem tree, musk, sandalwood and other combinations, they undergo a change before the adhika ashadha ends
  • Agama shastras followed in other parts of India for Vishnu worship, such as the Vaikhanasas, also prescribe the change of wooden deities under a specific astrological combination
  • Deities made of stone or metal do not need to be changed (unless they are damaged), but wooden deities must be changed within a specific number of years and their power must be ritually transferred
  • Nabakalebar is about the transformation of the Puri temple and Odisha lords into a new body
  • The new wooden idols of Jagannath, Balabhadra, Subhadra and Sudarshan are welcomed to the temple in celebration. The old idols are ritually buried in Koili Baikuntha in accordance with century-old Odia scriptures

NABAKALEBARA – RITUALS


  • The search group announces where the logs are located in order – the last is Jagannath’s tree
  • Security is arranged by the government of Odisha
  • The trees are ritually cut down, and the logs transported in small carts to the temple in Puri – where they are carved into deities
  • At midnight on Chaturdashi, the tattva Padārtha is transferred from the old deities to the new
  • The new deities are worshipped, and the old are buried in sand
  • Rituals and mythology are attached to Nabakalebara
  • The procedure for the transformation of images was mentioned in Sanskrit manuscripts, written on palm leaves and kept in the temple
  • The temple’s three head priests are charged with reading and interpreting them
  • The images of Jagannath must be made of wood
  • Since the deity is dark, the neem tree from which his image is carved should be dark also
  • The trees used for the images of his brother and sister are lighter in color – since his siblings are fair in complexion
  • Jagannath’s tree must have four principal branches, symbolizing the four arms of Narayana
  • No branches are broken or cut
  • The tree must be located near a three-way intersection or surrounded by three mountains
  • A hermitage and a temple to Shiva must be nearby, and natural impressions of a conch-shell and chakra (wheel) must be on the trunk
  • After the tree is felled, sections are selected for carving and the remainder is buried – The location is then considered sacred
  • The logs are placed in a wooden six-wheeled oxcart and transported to the temple, where they are kept in the koili vaikuntha (koili means “burial ground”, and vaikuntha means “heaven”)
  • The old deities are buried, and the new ones made. After the transfer of essence, the old images are considered lifeless
  • Carving of the images begins with the three oldest of the nine main wood carvers working on Jagannath
  • The images of Lord Balabhadra and Devi are simultaneously carved by two three-person teams
  • More than 50 carpenters assist the carvers
  • The work is done in secret, and not even the temple’s head priest is allowed to visit the workplace
  • The carving enclosure is open on the top, but closed with strong doors
  • The carvers are not supposed to eat, drink or smoke in the enclosure
  • The carvings are completed in 21 days, during which the carvers are not supposed to leave the temple; they sleep in the temple courtyard, and eat mahaprasad
  • Devotional songs are sung by devadasis, accompanied by temple musicians, outside the koili vaikuntha during the carving period – shlokas from the Vedas are chanted by Brahmin priests¨¨
  • After the new deities are made they are brought into the temple’s inner sanctum, they are placed in front of (and facing) the old ones
  • No puja is performed at this time, and no food is offered. The images are life-sized, and very heavy
  • The transformation ceremony takes place three days before the chariot festival
  • At midnight, the old deities are carried out and buried in the koili vaikuntha before dawn
  • Although the other deities have separate graves, the previous Jagannaths are buried on top of each other.
  • On the morning of the second day, the new deities are seated on the altar
  • The temple’s daily routine resumes after nearly 58 days (the search and carving periods)
  • Sweet-smelling flower garlands and new garments are given to the new deities, food is offered, and a puja is performed – devotees can again enter the temple
  • On the third day, the new deities emerge from the temple for the chariot festival
  • Nabakalebara attracts millions of people from around the world to Puri, and is one of India’a largest festivals

NABAKALEBARA – FINDING THE SACRED TREES


  • Ordinary neem trees cannot be used to make the deities
  • For the identification of the tree, conditions and signs are taken into account
  • The daru (log) of Sudarshan should have three branches
  • The skin (bark) of the neem tree should be reddish
  • The tree should have a chakra (wheel) with a small depression in the middle
  • The daru of Balabhadra should have seven branches
  • The bark of the tree should be light-brown or white
  • It should have the sign of a plow and pestle on it
  • Near the tree should be a heritage site and a graveyard
  • The daru of Subhadra should have five branches, and its bark should be yellowish
  • There should be a lotus flower on the tree
  • The daru of Jagannath should have four main branches, and its bark should be dark
  • The tree should have a Shankha and a chakra on it
  • There should be a cremation ground and an anthill near the tree, and a snake hole at its roots
  • The tree should be near a river, pond, a three-way crossing or three mountains
  • There should not be birds’ nests on the tree, and no bird should have perched on the tree
  • The tree should be surrounded by other trees, and there should be a temple to Shiva in the vicinity
  • The tree should be free of parasitic plants and creepers
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