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Puri Rath Yatra 2024 Odisha – Importance of Puri Jagannath Rath Yatra Chariot Festival In India

Puri Rath Yatra, the world famous chariot or car festival, at the Puri Jagannath Temple in Odisha, India. Puri Rath Yatra 2024 date is July 7. It is celebrated on the second day of the Shukla Paksha (waxing phase of moon or bright fortnight) Ashadh month as per traditional Oriya Calendar. On the day of the Ratha Yatra (car festival), chariots (Rath) carrying Lord Jagannath, Balabhadra and Subhadra is pulled to the nearby Gundicha Temple.

The return journey of the chariots or Bahuda Jatra is on July 16, 2024.

Importance of Puri Jagannath Rath Yatra

The Brahma Purana glorifies the importance of Puri Rath Yatra in the following words -
Those who are fortunate to see the deities of Srimandira in the Gundicha Temple, the final destination of the procession of the chariots, get the privilege of going to Vishnuloka, the abode of Vishnu or heaven.
The concept of chariot in Hinduism of ancient origin. The Katha Upanishad states:
The body is the chariot and the soul is the deity installed in the chariot. Wisdom acts as the charioteer to control the mind and thoughts.
Lord himself comes out of the sanctum sanctorum to give darshan (vision) to his devotees is the greatness of Puri Rath Yatra. All people irrespective of caste, creed, status, fallen, … get opportunity to have darshan of Lord from close quarters.
Lord Swaying and moving like a wild elephant arrives at the grand avenue and rides his chariot and destroys in a flash all the sins of his devotees, even if these may be grave or unpardonable. (Saint – Poet Salabega)

Importance of Puri Jagannath Rath Yatra Chariot Festival In India

At the world famous Puri Jagannath Temple in Orissa, 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 Rathas

The making of the Rathas for the annual festival begins on the Akshaya Tritiya day (April - May).  Some initial rituals are done on Basant Panchami day (January - February).  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.

Bathing Festival

The Snana Yatra or Snana Purnima (Bathing Festival) takes place on the full moon day in the month of Jyestha (May – June). On this day, the three deities are bathed in 108 pitchers of water.


After the elaborate Snana Yatra festival, the three deities 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 wooden idols of the deities are given a fresh coat of paint.

The Rath Yatra

Next auspicious ceremony is the world famous Ratha Yatra. On this day, thousands of devotees pull the three huge chariots carrying Lord Jagannath, Balabhadra and Subhadra through the grand road (Bada Danda) to the Gundicha Temple. The deities visit their aunt here.

The three deities come out in procession known as ‘Pahandi.’ When the deities are seated on the huge chariots, the Gajapati King of Puri, the first servant of Lord Jagannath, sweeps the chariots.

The awe-inspiring act during the procession is the pulling of the huge chariots by thousands of people to the Gundicha Temple through the grand road (Bada Danda). The chariot of Balabhadra moves first, followed by Subhadra and Jagannath. The chariots with the idols wait outside the Gundicha temple.

The deities enter the temple on the next day and stay there for seven days. In between, on the fifth day, Goddess Lakshmi, wife of Lord Jagannath, comes to the Gundicha temple in search of her Lord. On finding his chariot there, she returns back in anger after damaging Jagannath’s chariot.

The Return

After the week-long stay, the three deities return and the journey is known as Bahuda Yatra.
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.

Different Names of Rath Yatra

The Rath Yatra of Puri Jagannath is known by different names. They are
Gundicha Yatra
Ghosa Yatra
Navadina Yatra
Dashavatara Yatra

Earlier Six Chariots Instead of the Present Three

It is believed that earlier Malini River flowed across the Bada Dhanda (the road through which the chariots are pulled). Then there used to be six chariots on either side of the river. The deities were carried across the river in rafts.

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