Home » Blog » Celebrating Twice the Joy: Exploring the Significance of Puri’s Double Ratha Yatra

Celebrating Twice the Joy: Exploring the Significance of Puri’s Double Ratha Yatra

Ratha Yatra of Puri

Sujata Muguda, Shreyas WebMedia Solutions

7 July 2024: One of the most anticipated and joyous occasions in the Indian state of Odisha is the Ratha Yatra, popularly called the Chariot Festival. This enormous occasion attracts millions of fans and tourists worldwide and is more than just a local celebration. It is a globally recognized cultural event. Deeply ingrained in Hindu customs, the festival is dedicated to Lord Jagannath, a venerated incarnation of Lord Vishnu or Krishna.

The festival takes place annually on the bright half of the lunar month of Ashadh, which typically falls in June or July. This year, the festival is scheduled for July 7th, 2024. The Ratha Yatra is a symbol of equality and integration, where the deities, Lord Jagannath, his elder brother Balabhadra, and sister Subhadra, are taken out from the sanctum sanctorum of the Jagannath Temple and placed in massive, elaborately decorated chariots. These chariots are then pulled by throngs of devotees through the streets of Puri, from the main temple to the Gundicha Temple, where the deities stay for a week before returning to the Bahuda Yatra.

The construction of the chariots is a fascinating process in itself. Every year, new chariots are built from scratch by a dedicated team of carpenters who have the hereditary rights to this sacred task. The wood for the chariots is sourced from specific trees and is brought from the ex-princely state of Dasapalla. The logs are set afloat as rafts in the river Mahanadi and collected near Puri for transportation by road.

The significance of the Ratha Yatra is manifold. It is a demonstration of the belief that the power of the deity’s image transcends the confines of the temple and blesses the entire route of the procession. For many, it is an opportunity for darshan, an auspicious viewing of the deities, especially for those who are not permitted inside the temple due to caste or sectarian restrictions.

This year, the festival is garnering even more attention as it is set to be celebrated twice. The occurrence of the festival twice a year is a rare event and is attributed to the unique positioning of the lunar calendar. This phenomenon, known as ‘Nabakalebara’, literally translates to ‘new body’, and signifies the periodical renewal of the wooden images of the deities. It is a time of great celebration and holds immense spiritual significance for the devotees.

The Ratha Yatra is not just a display of religious fervor; it is a cultural extravaganza that showcases the rich heritage of Odisha. The festival is marked by a plethora of cultural performances, traditional music, and dance that enliven the streets of Puri. The air is filled with chants of ‘Jai Jagannath’ as the procession moves forward, creating a vibrant and divine atmosphere.

The Ratha Yatra of Puri is a testament to the timeless traditions of India and continues to be a beacon of faith and unity. It is a festival that transcends the barriers of caste, creed, and religion, inviting everyone to partake in the celebrations of devotion and brotherhood. As the chariots roll down the Grand Avenue of Puri, they carry with them the hopes and prayers of millions, reaffirming the belief in the divine and the eternal spirit of humanity.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *