Rath Yatra or the chariot festival is celebrated every year with much zeal and enthusiasm across the nation. Devotees come out in huge numbers and take part in the festival with hearts full of faith, and faces glowing with energy. This year, Rath Yatra begins today- July 4. The holy festival is held in Odisha's Puri and marks the journey of Lord Jagannath, Lord Balbhadra and Goddess Subadhra from their actual abode (the Puri Jagannath Temple) to the Gundicha temple.
It commences on Dwitiya Tithi during Shukla Paksha of Ashada month which happens to fall on July 4 this year as per the Gregorian calendar.
According to Drikpanchang, Dwitiya Tithi begins at 10:04 pm on July 3 and ends at 7:09 pm on July 4.
Significance of Ratha Yatra:
Lord Jagannath ( the Lord of the Universe derived from the Sanskrit words - Jagat meaning Universe and Nath meaning Lord) leaves his abode along with siblings Balbhadra and Subadhra for Gundicha Mata's Temple, a monument built in the memory of Queen Gundicha, wife of King Indradyumna who built the world famous Puri temple.
As per belief, Goddess Lakshmi visits her consort Lord Jagannath on the fourth day and this day is referred to as the Hera Panchami, which falls on the sixth day or Shashti.
After spending about a week at the Gundicha temple, the trio of Jagannath, Balbhadra and Subhadra return to their original abode. This ceremony is called Bahuda Yatra.
Devotees pull three beautifully decorated giant chariots which carry the idols of the three main deities. The preparations for this festival begins almost 18 days. The chariots have a distinct look and name.
Lord Jagannath's chariot is known as Garudadhwaja (named after Garuda, the vehicle or Vahana of Lord Vishnu), Nandighosha or Kapiladhwaja. The deity is accompanied by Madanmohan.
Balabhadra along with Ramakrishna ride a chariot named Taladhwaja/Langaladhwaja and Subadhra and Sudarshana are aboard a chariot named Padmadhwaja, Darpadalana or Devadalana.
The atmosphere outside the temple on the first day is electric as devotees get to see the deities commencing their annual journey.
Here's wishing one and all a very Happy Rath Yatra!