The festival of Rath Yatra is celebrated
in pomp and grandeur by the devotees from Hindu community through out the world.
In India at Puri Jagannath temple, Rath Yatra celebration starts with ‘Ratha
Prathistha’ or invoking ceremony in the morning. In spite of that people
take special interest in taking glance of Ratha Yatra or chariot pulling. It
starts in the late afternoon hours when the chariots of idols namely Jagannath,
Balabhadra and Subhdra began its journey.
Each of these chariots is built in specific
style and specifications. For instance, Nandighosha, almost
twenty three cubits high, is the name of the chariot of Lord Jagannath with
eighteen wheels. The chariot of Balabhadra, known as Taladhvaja,
consists of sixteen wheels and is twenty-two cubits high. Devadalana
is the chariot of Subhadra having forteen wheels. Its height is twenty one cubits.
There is another striking point that
deserves mentioning. Each year these wooden chariots are built keeping at par
with religious specifications. The idols of these three deities are also made
of wood and the old images of the deities are substituted by new ones almost
after twelve years.
Rath Yatra lasts is the time for merry
making in association with grand fest and fiesta. This commemorates the annual
journey of Lord Jagannath, Lord Balabhadra and their sister Subhadra to their
aunt’s temple (Gundicha Mandir) which is located at a distance of two
km from their temple. After a short stay (according to some, staying for seven
days) at the country temple amidst festivities, the three deities return to
the Lord Jagannath’s temple.
The festivities attract about 5-6 lakhs
devotees to Puri each year. Rath Yatra celebration has cast a spell in the minds
of these people who use to pay visits in huge number. Not only people from India
assembled there, it holds special significance for the foreign visitors as well.
The assemblage of multitudes of people, extravaganza created by music and percussion
and the decorated chariots provide an unforgettable experience.