New Delhi: The auspicious and much-revered Jagannath Rath Yatra, also known as the Chariot festival commenced this year on June 23. The 15-day long festival was celebrated with much gusto and fervour in Odisha, Bhubaneswar. The temple town of Puri attracts tourists from across the globe who visit the place, just to get a glimpse of the Lord and witness the majestic Rath Yatra.
However, this year due to the deadly novel coronavirus pandemic outbreak, the Supreme Court had allowed the Rath Yatra to take place with a restriction imposed on the number of devotees in attendance. Social distancing was observed and people took part in the festivity amid lockdown rules and regulations.
Also known as the chariot festival, this year marked the 143rd Rath Yatra of the Lord. The three chariots used to carry the Lord Jagannath, Lord Balabhadra and sister Subhadra are different in size and other detailing. The chariots are beautifully and intrinsically designed and painted every year.
There are various legends and beliefs associated with the origin of the idols of Lord Jagannath, brother Balabhadra and sister Devi Subhadra. The idols of the god inside the Puri temple are of a particular type. The idols are not made out of any metal or stone, rather neem wood is used to carve the idols beautifully.
The idols of Lord Jagannath depicts the Lord embodying features of a large, square-shaped head, big eyes and unfinished limbs. There are several legends related to the origin of how the lord came to reside at the Puri temple in Bhubaneswar.
One of the popular stories which is associated with it reveals why the hands and limbs of the Lord's idols are unfinished.
It is believed that in that King Indradyumna wanted to build a Vishnu temple but he wasn't certain about the shape of the idol that would represent the Lord. He was then asked by Lord Brahma to meditate and pray to Lord Vishnu himself as to what form would he like to embody.
After deep meditation, God appeared in his dream and spoke about a particular floating wood log near Bankamuhana in Puri and his image would be made out of that log. After this dream, Indradyumna rushed to the spot and found the wooden log. However, to his surprise, he couldn't get his artists to make a idols out of it – no matter what.
The tools of the artisans broke every time when they tried to cut the log. This was the point when Ananta Maharana (carpenter Bishwakarma/Vishwakarma) appeared and offered to help.
However, Bishwakarma had one condition. He said that he shouldn't be disturbed while carving out the idol until it is finished. So, for two weeks, he employed himself in the divine task in locked podium without anyone's interruption. But after two weeks, suddenly the sound of work stopped coming from inside the podium to which wife of Indradyumna – Gundicha said that they must go in and check if he is fine.
Although the King didn't want to, he had no option but to enter inside. However, to their surprise, when they got in, they found no carpenter and only unfinished idols. He immediately repented his act. But a divine voice – probably of Lord Vishnu himself, told the King that he shouldn't regret and install the unfinished idols as it is and Lord shall make himself visible to the devotees in this form.