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As thousands of devotees gathered in Puri for the annual ‘Ratha Jatra,’ Prime Minister Narendra Modi greeted them, saying, “May Lord Jagannath’s divine journey fill everyone’s lives with health, happiness, and spiritual enrichment.” President Droupadi Murmu also expressed his greetings on the occasion and wished everyone pleasure, peace, and success.
“On the occasion of the start of Lord Jagannath’s Rath Yatra, I extend my heartfelt congratulations and best wishes to all countrymen, particularly Lord Jagannath devotees.” I pray to Mahaprabhu Jagannath that this festival of devotion and dedication brings everyone happiness, peace, and wealth. Murmu tweeted in Hindi and Odia, “Jai Jagannath.”
Rath Yatra, one of the world’s most prominent Hindu festivals, is related with Lord Jagannath at Shri Kshetra Puri Dham in Odisha. During the three-day yatra, lakhs of devotees draw the three beautiful chariots from in front of Jagannath Temple’s Singha Dwar to Gundicha Temple.
Odisha government’s preparation on Jagannath Rath Yatra 2023
The Odisha government has deployed 180 platoons (1 platoon consists of 30 people) of security forces in the seashore pilgrim town as part of elaborate Rath Yatra preparations. During the event, 125 special trains will travel to Puri, and a significant number of CCTV cameras supported by drone cameras will operate, according to PTI, citing an official.
Similar yatras are also taken out in other parts of the country.
The 146th Rath Yatra of Lord Jagannath began on Tuesday morning in Ahmedabad, Gujarat, under heavy security. Early Tuesday morning, Union Home Minister Amit Shah performed Mangala aarti’ (auspicious rite to offer respect to the deity) in the temple. Members of the Muslim community greeted the yatra in the city as hundreds of devotees thronged the path to catch a glimpse of the deity.
History of Jagannath Rath Yatra
The Jagannath Rath Yatra is a highly significant Hindu festival and procession that takes place in the city of Puri, located in the eastern state of Odisha, India. It is dedicated to Lord Jagannath, a form of Lord Krishna, along with his siblings Lord Balabhadra and Goddess Subhadra. The festival is celebrated with great fervor and attracts millions of devotees from all over the country.
The history of the Jagannath Rath Yatra dates back several centuries. It is believed to have started during the reign of King Indradyumna, who is credited with the establishment of the famous Jagannath Temple in Puri. The temple, considered one of the Char Dham pilgrimage sites for Hindus, was built in the 12th century.
According to legend, King Indradyumna had a divine vision instructing him to retrieve an idol of Lord Jagannath, which had mysteriously appeared on the shores of Puri. The king commissioned skilled artisans to carve the idols of Lord Jagannath, Lord Balabhadra, and Goddess Subhadra, and they were enshrined in the temple.
The Rath Yatra is a symbolic reenactment of Lord Jagannath’s journey from his temple to his aunt’s house, the Gundicha Temple, located a short distance away. The procession involves pulling huge chariots, known as raths, through the streets of Puri. The chariots are constructed anew every year and are meticulously decorated.
The main chariot is that of Lord Jagannath, called Nandighosa, which stands at a height of 45 feet. The chariot of Lord Balabhadra, called Taladhwaja, and the chariot of Goddess Subhadra, called Darpadalana, are slightly smaller in size. These chariots are made of wood and are adorned with colorful cloth, intricate designs, and religious symbols.
The Rath Yatra takes place on the second day of the bright fortnight of the Hindu month of Ashadha (June/July). Devotees from all walks of life come together to pull the chariots using long ropes. The procession moves slowly through the streets, accompanied by the chanting of devotional songs, beating of drums, and the sound of cymbals. The sight of the massive chariots and the enthusiasm of the devotees create an atmosphere of immense joy and spiritual fervor.
The Rath Yatra holds great religious significance for devotees. It is believed that participating in the procession and having the opportunity to touch the ropes of the chariots or even catch a glimpse of the deities bestows immense blessings and spiritual merit. The festival is also a symbol of equality, as people from all social classes and backgrounds join in the celebrations, pulling the chariots together.
After a week, the deities return to the Jagannath Temple in a ritual known as the Bahuda Yatra in Jagannath Rath Yatra. The chariots are pulled back to the temple, and the idols are placed on their respective altars. The return journey of Jagannath Rath Yatra is also accompanied by grand festivities and celebrations.
The Jagannath Rath Yatra is not only celebrated in Puri but also in various other cities and towns around the world, wherever there are significant Jagannath temples. The festival has become a major cultural event, attracting tourists and devotees from different parts of the world, showcasing the rich heritage and religious traditions of India.