The Puri Rath Yatra, also known as Ratha Jatra is based around the worship of Lord Jagannath, believed to be the reincarnation of lord Vishnu and Lord Krishna.
Jagannath Yatra commemorates Lord Jagannath’s annual visit to his birthplace, Gundicha Temple. His brother Balabhadra and sister Subhadra are also worshipped during this festival. Every year the yatra begins in July when the waxing phase of the moon or bright fortnight takes place. This it begins on July 4 and ends on July 15.
Millions of devotees throng Jagannath Puri, located 60 kilometres from Bhubaneshwar every year to get a glimpse of Lord Jagannath. Even getting an opportunity to touch his chariot during the yatra is considered extremely auspicious.
The Ratha Yatra festival is carried out with great pomp and show. A lot of zeal can be seen among the devotees that come from around the world during the yatra. The idols of Lord Jagannath, along with his elder brother Balabhadra and sister Subhadra, are taken out of their abode – the Jagannath Temple and taken to Gundicha Temple on grandiosely decorated chariots. After a period of seven days, the idols are brought back to Jagannath Temple via the Mausi Maa Temple, which is believed to be the abode of Lord Jagannath’s maternal aunt.
There are lights, there is music, chants and people merrily flock around creating a festive atmosphere.
There are several rituals followed during the Rath Yatra and it all begins with the construction of three new chariots. They are created every year and the crafting process is nothing less than a celebration in itself as the entire process is carried out in public at the royal palace near the Jagannath Temple.
The three idols go through Snana Yatra. They are given a bath using 108 pitchers of water 18 days before the Rath Yatra begins. This year the Snana Yatra took place on June 17.
After the Rath Yatra is completed and the deities return from their journey, they are given a nourishing drink to replenish them and are then adorned with pure gold ornaments. Following this, they are placed back inside the Jagannath Temple.
Devotees gather around and watch the enactment carried out by the organizing committee in which they display an angry Goddess Lakshmi, who is upset with her husband, Lord Jagannath, due to his long absence without informing her. Lord Jagannath senses her anger and lures her with sweets. She gives into the efforts put in by the Lord and allows him to enter the Temple.
Important Dates of Rath Yatra 2019
This year the Rath Yatra begins on July 4 with placement of the deities on the chariots and their journey forward to the Gundicha Temple.
Hera Panchami takes place on July 8 when Goddess Lakshmi will be carried on a palanquin to the Gundicha Temple.
Bahuda Yatra takes place on July 12 with the deities returning to the Lion’s Gate entrance of Jagannath Temple. This begins at around 4 pm in the evening.
Suna Besha ritual in which the deities are decorated with gold ornaments will happen on July 13. This will start at around 5 pm and goes on till 11 in the night.
Niladri Bijaya is on July 15 when the deities will be placed back inside Jagannath Temple.
How to Reach Puri
The nearest airport is Bhubaneshwar, approximately 60 kilometers away from Puri, hence to be able to reach comfortably, it is advisable to take a train as the city has a well-established rail-head. There are trains from almost all major cities in India to Puri. You must book for the yatra well in advance to avoid last minute rush which can be a let-down.
Special Trains for the Yatra
Keeping the huge inflow of devotees to Puri during the Rath Yatra of Lord Jagannath in mind, the Indian Railways have started special trains for the yatra. The East Coast Railway has decided to run 194 special trains from July 4 to July 13 this year. Please check the
timings and running status of these trains on RailYatri app.
Fret not! RailYatri is here
RailYatri’s Train Ticket Booking Service allows easy bookings and also helps you keep a tab on a wait-listed ticket. In addition to booking train tickets, you can as well order fresh meals delivered right on your berth.
In case you wish to travel around Puri after the Rath Yatra is over, the RailYatri ‘Book a cab’ service will allow you to visit other tourist places around Puri.
The RailYatri app also allows you to keep a check on train running status, major stations between cities and the time a train halts at stations so that you can plan your travel well.
Jagannath Yatra is on, so, get booking now!