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Rath Yatra – June 20, 2023

Rath Yatra is celebrated on the second day of the two-week-long Ashadha month of the Hindu calendar and this year, it takes place on June 20. The festival usually falls between June and July. Millions of devotees from all over India congregate in the pilgrim city of Puri, Odisha, to participate in the chariot journey of Lord Jagannath. Rath Yatra is one of the most important festivals of the Hindu religion and is believed to be in practice since time immemorial. The day starts with the Mangalaparna ritual, followed by the journey of massive wooden chariots for approx. three kilometers to reach Shree Gundicha Temple.

History of Rath Yatra

The Jagannath Rath Yatra is one of the important festivals of Hinduism. Every year, a majestic procession carrying the statues of Lord Krishna, Balaram, and Subhadra is pulled by the devotees to reach the Jagannath temple.

The Yatra honors the journey of Lord Jagannath, the supreme God of the Sanatana Dharma (Hinduism). As per Hindu mythology, Lord Jagannath is considered to be an incarnation of Lord Vishnu. It is annually observed in the Jagannath Temple of Puri, a city in the Odisha state of India. The holy month of Ashahdha is marked by the worship of the elder siblings of Lord Jagannath. Numerous hill tribes of Odisha partake in the execution of the festival, as Lord Jagannath is himself believed to be a tribal deity.

The preparation for the festival begins at least a month before. The wood of the Neem tree is used to build three massive chariots that carry the idols. As many as 1,400 workers trained in ancient carpentry build the chariot from scratch. The three chariots are built without any measuring tape, nails, or glue — only wooden pegs and old-school joints. Lord Jagannath’s chariot is about 44 feet tall, with wheels doused in red and yellow color. Whereas the other two chariots are 43 and 42 feet tall to signify the ascension of the younger siblings from the lord.

The word Jagannath is derived from the letters ‘Jagat’ and ‘Nath,’ which translates to the Lord of the Universe. The festival symbolizes the guiding principles of Hinduism, namely Saivism, Shaktism, and Vaishnavism.

Rath Yatra timeline

1112
The Temple’s Foundation

King Anantavarman Chodaganga issues the command to build Lord Jagannath’s temple in his province.

1805
Global Introduction

Claudius Buchanan introduces his writings on India’s religions to the world and launches the word ‘Juggernaut,’ which is inspired by Lord Jagannath.

1856
The Winds of Change

The British government hands over the charge of the Jagannath temples to the Hindu community after decades of colonization.

1955
The Temple Act

Shri Jagannath Temple Act is enacted to recognize the independent status and self-management of the temple.

Rath Yatra FAQs

When was the Rath Yatra first mentioned in the scriptures?

The earliest mention of Rath Yatra in Brahma Purana dates back to 460 years.

Why do Rath Yatra chariots travel to the Gundicha temple?

King Indradyumna’s wife Queen Gundicha requests the audience of Lord Jagannath every year. The Lord pays a visit to her house for nine days to express his devotion to the queen.

What does the Rath Yatra symbolize?

Rath Yatra is a symbol of devotion, peace, unity, and brotherhood. It is believed that being a part of the celebration blesses us with good fortune and the riches of the world.

How to Observe Rath Yatra

  1. Wear new clothes

    Rath Yatra symbolizes the rejuvenating journey of Lord Jagannath, as he returns to his home. Devotees and followers of the Hindu religion who can’t make it to Puri usually wake up early and put fresh clothes on to cheer the Lord’s journey from their homes.

  2. Prepare a feast

    The devotees are served ‘chappan bhog’ after the processions. ‘Chappan bhog’ translates to ‘56 varieties of meals.’ Emulate the experience at home by preparing a similar feast and seeking the blessings of the Lord.

  3. Bring your community together

    Host a religious night within your community. Bring people together in the name of Lord Jagannath and share the tales of his triumph, as well as his commandments on how to live a healthy, well-rounded, and prosperous life.

5 Interesting Facts About Rath Yatra

  1. The chariots of precision

    More than a thousand carpenters join hands to build three massive chariots with ancient carpentry methods each year.

  2. The mystical rainfall

    According to the temple’s records, there hasn’t been a single Rath Yatra that hasn’t been blessed with rain.

  3. The millionth crowd

    More than a million people attend the Rath Yatra, with the headcount going as high as 1,750,000 in 2015.

  4. The clean start

    The temple’s prime custodian sweeps the floor of the chariot with a broom before it progresses ahead.

  5. A glimpse of God

    Since non-Hindus aren’t allowed in the temple, Lord Jagannath’s idol steps out of the temple to reach the people.

Why Rath Yatra is Important

  1. It honors the Lord

    Several mythical tales are attached to the worship of the Lord, including the tale of his triumphant return after escaping assassination at the hands of his uncle. Rath Yatra honors the Lord and inspires the devotees to pursue the path of courage and peace.

  2. It brings people together

    More than a million devotees from all over the country congregate to attend the festival. The Locals of Puri open their homes to travelers and the streets are adorned with flower petals. The enduring legacy of Rath Yatra is the way it brings people together to celebrate the divinity of Lord Jagannath.

  3. It’s a celebration of peace and prosperity

    Jagannath Rath Yatra is considered to be one of the holiest days of the year. It celebrates the devotion of millions of worshippers. The ambiance is filled with infectious and pure energy. Devotees chant songs, praise the Lord, and ask for blessings to live a peaceful life.

Rath Yatra dates

YearDateDay
2022July 1Friday
2023June 20Tuesday
2024July 7Sunday
2025June 27Friday
2026July 16Thursday

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