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Puri Rath Yatra 2008

Rath Yatra, the world famous chariot festival, at the Puri Jagannath Temple is celebrated on the second day of the bright fortnight of the Hindu month of Ashadha. On this day, chariots (Ratha) carrying Lord Jagannath, Balabhadra and Subhadra will be pulled to the Gundicha Temple, here the deities visit their aunt. In 2008, the date of Puri Rath Yatra is July 4.
At Puri Jagannath Temple, Lord Krishna is worshipped as ‘Jagannath’ – ‘master of the universe.’ Balabhadra is the elder brother of Lord Krishna and Subhadra is his younger sister.
The making of the Raths for the annual yatra begin on the Akshaya Tritiya day. The main rituals associated with Puri Rath Yatra festival is spread over a month and several rituals, like Snana Purnima and Anasara, take place during this period.
The Snana Yatra or Snana Purnima (Bathing Festival) will take place on the full moon day in the month of Jyestha (May – June). In 2008, the Snana Purinma is on June 18. On this day, the deities – Lord Jagannath, Balabhadra, and Subhadra – are bathed in one hundred and eight pitchers of water.
After the elaborate ritual bath, the three deities will stay away from public view and this is known as ‘anasara.’ It is believed that after such elaborate ritualistic bath the deities catch fever and therefore they do not return to the sanctum sanctorum of the temple.
The idols of the three deities then make an appearance after 15 days of ‘anasara’ in a new appearance known as ‘Navaya Yauvana Vesha.’ The deities are given a fresh coat of paint.
Next is the Ratha Yatra (July 4, 2008). On this day, thousands of people will pull the three huge chariots carrying Lord Jagannath, Balabhadra and Subhadra through the grand road (Bada Danda) to the Gundicha Temple.
The three deities enter the temple of their aunt on the next day and stay there for seven days.
On the fifth day, Goddess Lakshmi, wife of Lord Jagannath, comes in search of him to the Gundicha temple. On finding his chariot there, she damages Jagannath’s chariot and returns back in anger.
After the week-long stay, the three deities return and the journey is known as Bahuda Yatra. In 2008, it is on July 12.
During the return journey, the chariot of Jagannath stops at the Ardhasani Temple (Mausa Ma temple). Here, Lord accepts his favorite rice cake known as Poda Pitha from his aunt who is the presiding deity of the temple.
The deities reach the Puri Jagannath Temple in the evening and wait outside for the day.
On the next day, the deities are attired in new costumes and this new form of the idols is known as ‘Suna Vesa.’
The following day, the deities move into the sanctum sanctorum of the temple and the Rath Yatra festival comes to an end.
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