Jagannath Rath Yatra Festival is one of the most significant and largest religious festivals in India, especially in the state of Odisha. The Rath Yatra festival will be celebrated on 20th June 2023 with great devotion and enthusiasm by millions of devotees worldwide. In this article, we will explore the History, Preparation, and significance of the Jagannath Rath Yatra Festival.
The festival is a celebration of Lord Jagannath’s journey with his siblings from the Jagannath Temple to the Gundicha Temple.
Jagannath Rath Yatra 2023 Dates
|Debasnana Purnima – Snana Yatra
|4th June 2023
|Shri Gundicha Rath Yatra
|20th June 2023
|24th June 2023
|26th June 2023
|28th June 2023
|29th June 2023
|1st July 2023
The Legend of Jagannath Rath Yatra Festival
Lord Jagannath, along with his siblings, Lord Balabhadra, and Goddess Subhadra, is the presiding deity of the Jagannath Temple in Puri, Odisha.
According to the legend, Lord Jagannath visits his aunt’s house at Gundicha Temple, which is about 3 km away from the Jagannath Temple, every year during the monsoon season.
The journey is believed to be Lord Jagannath’s journey from his home to his aunt’s home. The festival is also known as Gundicha Yatra or Chariot Festival.
Jagannath Rath Yatra History and Origin
The Jagannath Rath Yatra has been celebrated in Odisha for many centuries.
The exact origins of the festival are not known, but it is believed to have originated in the Puri district of Odisha, where the Jagannath Temple is located.
The story of the origin of the Rath Yatra is as follows: King Indradyumna, the ruler of the region, had a dream in which he was instructed to build a temple for Lord Jagannath, his brother Balabhadra, and their sister Subhadra.
The King followed these instructions and built the Jagannath Temple in Puri.
To honor the deities, the King also decided to hold a grand procession, in which the deities would be carried on elaborate chariots through the streets of Puri.
This is said to be the origin of the Jagannath Rath Yatra festival, which has been held annually in Puri ever since.
Over the centuries, the festival has evolved and grown in scale, and today it is a major religious and cultural event in Odisha, attracting thousands of devotees from all over India and the world.
Why Rath Yatra is celebrated
When we say Why Rath Yatra is celebrated, it’s like opening a cultural Pandora’s box filled with myriad tales and traditions.
It’s all about a legendary chariot ride, but oh boy, there’s so much more to it.
This vibrant festival, also known as the Chariot Festival, is celebrated with gusto, principally in the Indian state of Odisha.
Rooted in ancient mythology, it venerates Lord Jagannath, a form of Lord Vishnu, along with his brother Balabhadra and sister Subhadra.
The highlight? Three colossal, ornate chariots bear these deities.
So, the big question is – Why Rath Yatra is celebrated?
The answer lies in the word “Yatra” which means journey. The devotees believe that once a year, the deities journey from their usual abode, the Jagannath Temple, to the Gundicha Temple, their birthplace.
This auspicious trip is seen as an opportunity for everyone, regardless of caste or creed, to have a glimpse of the deities – a moment considered extremely sacred and fortunate.
In essence, the Rath Yatra is more than just a religious procession. It’s a symbol of unity and egalitarianism, a tapestry of rich history and vivid traditions.
It shows us that divinity, just like love, has no barriers. It’s a cosmic caravan of faith, demonstrating the journey of life, divinity, and spirituality.
Snana Yatra – Debasnana Purnima
On the Snana Yatra day, which coincides with the full moon and falls sixteen days before the Ratha-yatra festival, a significant event takes place in the world of Lord Jagannath.
Lord Jagannath is given a ceremonial bath to commemorate his appearance day and is then confined to rest for two weeks due to his weakened state. After this period, he receives special attention until he emerges for the Ratha-yatra festival.
The Debasnana Purnima will be celebrated on 4th June 2023.
The bathing ceremony of Jagannath, known as Debasnana Purnima, is held on the full moon day of Jyestha month in honor of Lord Jagannath’s birth.
This tradition was established by Raja Indradyumna when he installed the wooden deities.
The Debasnana Yatra festival takes place simultaneously in all important locations of Puri, attracting a vast number of visitors and pilgrims from all corners of the country.
Jagannath Rath Yatra Celebrations
The Rath Yatra festival begins with the preparation of the three chariots that will carry Lord Jagannath, his brother Balabhadra, and their sister Subhadra through the streets of Puri.
The chariots are elaborately decorated with flowers and other decorations and are pulled by devotees through the streets of the city.
As the chariots make their way through the Puri city, devotees sing and dance in the streets, and offer prayers and offerings to the deities.
The procession culminates at the Gundicha Temple, where the deities are said to reside for nine days before returning to the Jagannath Temple.
During these nine days, devotees offer prayers and perform various rituals at the Gundicha Temple.
The festival concludes with the return of the deities to the Jagannath Temple in a procession called the Bahuda Yatra.
The Jagannath Rath Yatra is not only a religious event but also a cultural and social celebration.
It brings together people from different backgrounds and communities and provides an opportunity for them to come together and celebrate their faith.
Names of Chariots in Jagannath Rath Yatra
The three chariots that are used in the Jagannath Rath Yatra festival are known as the Nandighosa, the Taladhwaja, and the Darpadalana.
These chariots are used to carry the three deities, Lord Jagannath, his brother Balabhadra, and their sister Subhadra, during the procession through the streets of Puri.
|Name of Rath / Chariot
|Number of Wheels
The Nandighosa is the largest and most elaborately decorated of the three chariots and is used to carry Lord Jagannath. It is 45 feet high and has 16 wheels.
The Taladhwaja is the second largest chariot and is used to carry Balabhadra. It is 44 feet high and has 14 wheels.
The Darpadalana is the smallest of the three chariots and is used to carry Subhadra. It is 33 feet high and has 12 wheels.
Each of the chariots is elaborately decorated with flowers and other decorations and is pulled by devotees through the streets of Puri during the Rath Yatra festival.
Preparation for Jagannath Rath Yatra Festival
Preparations for the Jagannath Rath Yatra festival start much before the actual Rath Yatra Festival. The construction of the Rathas starts on Akshaya Tritiya day.
Every year new chariots are constructed. Only the ‘Sarathi’ (charioteer), Ghoda (horses), Kalasa (Crowning element), and Parswa devatas are not made new every year. They are prepared for the year of Navakalebara (New-body ceremony).
A total number of 92 Maharanas, 81 Bhois, 22 Kamars, and 22 Rupakaras are engaged in the construction work of the Rathas
Jagannath Rath Yatra Rituals and Ceremonies
The Jagannath Rath Yatra is celebrated for 9 days and is managed by the Shree Jagannath trust in Puri. The atmosphere around Jagannath temple in Puri is something you should experience once in your lifetime.
The nine days of the Jagannath Rath Yatra festival are an important period of devotion and spiritual contemplation for the deities and their devotees.
During this time, various rituals and ceremonies are performed at the Gundicha Temple, where the deities reside.
Some of the key rituals and ceremonies that are performed during the Rath Yatra festival include:
Chhera Panhara is a ritual that is performed during the Jagannath Rath Yatra festival in the Indian state of Odisha.
It is a symbolic act in which the chief administrator of the Jagannath Temple, known as the Gajapati Maharaja, sweeps the chariot of Lord Jagannath with a golden broom.
Chhera Panhara ritual is said to represent the Gajapati Maharaja’s role as the guardian and protector of the Jagannath Temple.
It is also said to symbolize the cleansing of the chariot and the purification of the deity.
The Adap Mandap
This is the first day of the festival and is when the chariots of the three deities are decorated and prepared for the procession.
Devotees offer prayers and make offerings to the deities, and the chariots are pulled through the streets of Puri in a procession called the Pahandi.
The Snana Yatra
This is a ritual bath that is performed on the second day of the festival. The deities are bathed in a ceremonial pond, and the water is said to have curative powers.
This ritual is said to purify the deities and bestow blessings on the devotees who participate in it.
The Jyestha Purnima
This is the third day of the Rath Yatra festival and marks the beginning of the Anasara, a period of nine days when the deities are said to be in a state of divine sleep.
Devotees offer prayers and perform various rituals at the Gundicha Temple during this time.
Hera Panchami will be celebrated on 24th June 2023.
Hera Panchami is an important festive occasion during the Shree Gundicha Yatra.
On the 6th day of Asadha Sukla (full moon phase), Hera Panchami is celebrated.
This is the period of nine days when the deities are said to be in a state of divine sleep.
During this time, devotees continue to offer prayers and perform rituals at the Gundicha Temple.
They also engage in devotional singing and dancing and participate in other religious activities.
The Bahuda Yatra
This year Bahuda Yatra will be celebrated on 28th June 2023.
This is the procession that takes place on the ninth day of the festival when the deities are brought back to the Jagannath Temple.
The chariots are pulled through the streets of Puri, and devotees offer prayers and make offerings to the deities.
This marks the end of the Rath Yatra festival, and the deities are once again made available for public worship at the Jagannath Temple.
These are just some of the key rituals and ceremonies that are performed during the Jagannath Rath Yatra festival.
This year Niladri Bije will be celebrated on 1st July 2023.
Niladri Bije is the charming conclusion to the famous Rath Yatra festival.
It’s like the epic grand finale fireworks display you’d see on New Year’s Eve, but with a rich cultural twist that’ll leave you wanting more.
Picture this. The deity, Lord Jagannath, alongside his elder brother Balabhadra and sister Subhadra, have been out on their annual vacation.
After the joyous nine-day sojourn, it’s time for them to return home to the sacred Jagannath Temple. And boy, don’t they know how to make an entrance!
The homecoming, also known as Niladri Bije, is an event painted in hues of cultural richness and ritualistic splendor.
Lord Jagannath offers a sweet delicacy called “Rasagola” to pacify his wife, Goddess Lakshmi. And this ain’t just any sweet treat, it’s a globular symphony of sugar, cottage cheese, and divine love.
Did you know? Niladri Bije has even sparked an annual celebration, ‘Rasagola Dibasa,’ promoting the iconic Odisha sweet!
The Worldwide Celebration of Jagannath Rath Yatra
Jagannath Rath Yatra is not only celebrated in India but also in other parts of the world.
The festival is celebrated in countries like Bangladesh, Nepal, and even the United States. The Rath Yatra in Puri attracts millions of devotees from all over the world.
The festival has a significant impact on the tourism industry in India, especially in Odisha.
The state witnesses a massive influx of tourists during the festival, which contributes to the economy’s growth.
Ratha Yatra Festival 2023 London
The Ratha Yatra Festival 2023 in London is a highly anticipated celebration of Indian culture and spirituality.
The festival features a grand procession, during which beautifully decorated chariots carrying the deities Lord Jagannath, Baladeva, and Subhadra are pulled through the streets.
This year’s festival is scheduled to take place on 30th July 2023 and will begin at Hyde Park and end at Trafalgar Square, where participants can enjoy cultural performances, food, and stalls selling various items.
The Ratha Yatra Festival 2023 London provides a great opportunity to experience the vibrant and colorful culture of India and is attended by people of all ages and backgrounds.
Ratha Yatra Festival 2023 New York
The Ratha Yatra Festival 2023 in New York is an upcoming celebration of the ancient Indian tradition of pulling decorated chariots of deities through the streets.
This year’s Rath Yatra festival arranged by ISKCON is set to take place on June 9th and will begin at 2nd Avenue and 45th Street, continuing down to Washington Square Park.
The Ratha Yatra Festival 2023 in New York attracts people from all over the city who come to witness the colorful procession, which features beautifully adorned chariots carrying the deities Lord Jagannath, Baladeva, and Subhadra.
Participants can also enjoy a variety of cultural performances, traditional Indian food, and stalls selling various items.
The Ratha Yatra Festival provides a unique opportunity to experience the rich culture and spirituality of India right in the heart of New York City.
How to Celebrate Jagannath Rath Yatra Festival
The Jagannath Rath Yatra Festival is a time of great celebration and devotion, and there are many ways to celebrate the festival. Here are some ways to make the most of the festival:
- Attend the Rath Yatra Procession: The grand procession of the chariots is the highlight of the festival, and attending it is a must. Join the thousands of devotees as they pull the chariots through the streets of Puri, singing devotional songs and chanting.
- Visit the Jagannath Temple: The Jagannath Temple is the center of the festival, and visiting it is an important part of the celebration. Seek the blessings of Lord Jagannath, Balabhadra, and Subhadra, and offer your prayers and offerings.
- Fast and Offer Puja: Fasting during the festival is considered to be a way of purifying the body and mind. Offer puja to the deities and seek their blessings.
- Feast on Traditional Food: During the festival, there are many food stalls that offer traditional Odia cuisine. Indulge in delicious sweets like rasgulla and Chhena Poda, and savor savory snacks like chaat and samosas.
- Participate in Cultural Events: The festival is not just about the procession of the chariots. Participate in cultural events like music and dance performances, theatre, and art exhibitions to get a deeper understanding of the festival and its significance.
- Spread Love and Joy: The Jagannath Rath Yatra Festival is a time for spreading love and joy. Help the poor and the needy, and spread happiness and positivity wherever you go.
Traveling from Kolkata to Puri for Ratha Yatra Festival? Consider reading: Puri to Howrah Vande Bharat Express
Final Thoughts on Jagannath Rath Yatra Festival 2023
As I conclude this article on the Jagannath Rath Yatra Festival, I can’t help but feel overwhelmed with emotions. The festival is not just a celebration, but a journey of the soul.
It’s a time when we come together as a community, to seek the blessings of the Lord and celebrate the beauty of our traditions and culture.
Witnessing the grand procession of the chariots, with the sounds of the drums and the hymns ringing in your ears, is truly a magical experience.
It’s a moment of pure joy, of being one with the divine, and of feeling a sense of belonging to something greater than ourselves.
The Jagannath Rath Yatra Festival is a testament to the power of faith, unity and love.
It’s a reminder that no matter how challenging life gets, we can always find solace in our beliefs and in the support of our community.
So, if you ever get the chance to attend the Jagannath Rath Yatra Festival, don’t hesitate.
Embrace the experience with an open heart and an open mind, and let the magic of the festival fill your soul. It’s an experience that you’ll cherish for a lifetime.
FAQ on Jagannath Rath Yatra 2023
What is the Jagannath Rath Yatra?
The Jagannath Rath Yatra is a Hindu festival that is celebrated in the Indian state of Odisha. It is held in the city of Puri, which is home to the famous Jagannath Temple. The festival is a celebration of Lord Jagannath, who is believed to be a form of the Hindu deity Lord Vishnu.
When is the Rath Yatra held?
The Jagannath Rath Yatra is held annually during the months of June or July. The exact date of the festival is determined according to the Hindu lunar calendar.
What happens during the Rath Yatra?
During the Rath Yatra, devotees pull elaborately decorated chariots through the streets of Puri. The chariots carry the three deities, Lord Jagannath, his brother Balabhadra, and their sister Subhadra. As the chariots make their way through the city, devotees sing and dance in the streets, and offer prayers and offerings to the deities. The procession culminates at the Gundicha Temple, where the deities are said to reside for nine days before returning to the Jagannath Temple.
Why is the Rath Yatra important?
The Jagannath Rath Yatra is an important religious and cultural event in Odisha. It is a celebration of the love and devotion of the people towards Lord Jagannath and is a testament to the rich cultural heritage of the region. It also brings together people from different backgrounds and communities and provides an opportunity for them to come together and celebrate their faith.
How can I participate in the Rath Yatra?
If you are interested in participating in the Jagannath Rath Yatra, you can visit the city of Puri during the festival period. You can also contact local temples or community organizations in your area to find out if they are organizing any events related to the festival. You can also learn more about the festival and its traditions by reading about it or watching videos online.