The Jagannath Puri Car Festival 2012: 18 Exclusive Pictures From Orissa

Jagannath Puri Car Festival Three Raths
The chariots easily occupy a space of approx. 40 sq ft.

Every year lakhs of pilgrims thronged Puri to have the glimpse of Lord Jagannath riding on his chariot with elder brother Balabhadra and sister Subhadra. The similar enthusiasm for Ratha Yatra could be witnessed today with the arrival of over 10 lakh devotees to the temple town of Puri in Orrisa. The word Juggernaut is defined in the Oxford Dictionary as : a massive inexorable force, campaign, movement, or object that crushes whatever is in its path. Some say that it is nothing but the anglicised version of the word Jagannath (Lord of the World), by the British, who could not roll the word in their native tongue.

Jagannath Puri Car Festival Three Raths
The chariots easily occupy a space of approx. 40 sq ft.

The Ratha Yatra festival marks the annual procession of three deities from the Jagannath temple in three colorful wooden chariots by the devotees to the Gundicha temple. The pulling of the Ratha cart by devotees epitomizes the endeavors of the local residents of Vrindavan to bring Krishna, Balram and Subhadra back to their home town from Kurukshetra. The Rath Yatra of Puri Jagannath is held in the month of Aashad of the Hindu lunar calender which coincides with the months of June-July. This year the Rath Yatra of Puri Jagannath was held today, on 21 June 2012.

This is the only time of the year that non-hindus and foreigners who are otherwise not allowed inside the temple can get a glimpse of the dieties. In this pic – Paramilitary forces and the local police of Odisha stand watch over the proceedings.

I was there this year to revel in the crowds, and the absolute orderly chaos that ensued, I was able to click a few snaps that I will cherish for some time in to the future.

Alittle drizzling makes the weather pleasant before the rath yatra at 6 in the morning. Generally in any procession of dieties associated with a temple, the statues utilised are specially made for such processions and are called Utsava Murtis. But, in Jagannath Puri  Car festival, the actual statues of dieties from the the sanctum-sanctorum of the temple are used in the procession.

Here I share them with you all. Do leave your comments in the comments section below as they will help to make this event even more memorable for me 🙂

As with other festivities across the country, costumes of various Indian gods are seen during the Puri rath yatra as well. Here we see a devotee dressed as Lord Hanuman!

Rath Yatra or Rath Jatra is the name of the massive Chariot Festival of Lord Jagannath Ji celebrated with much passion and religious fervor in the holy land of Puri. Annually celebrated to honor Lord Jagannath Ji — the presiding deity of the town, this great and notable Chariot Festival lasts for around eight to ten days.

The festival serves a good reason for this pious land to be flocked by an endless number of pilgrims every year who head towards Puri with a staunch belief that a single glimpse of the Lord during this great festival is an assured means of salvation.

The festival observes a huge procession of decorated idols of Lord Jagannath, his sister Subhadra and brother Balbhadra or Balrama. All the deities are seated on separate chariots with the Lord adorning the most massive one.

One of the unique features of this chariot bearing the Lord, other than its grand size of 14 into 10 meters, is that it is pulled by devotees rather than the horses. The ropes of this chariot are considered to be the threads of salvation. Though celebrated in June-July, the construction of these chariots for the Rath Yatra starts as early as April.

The Monkey God being escorted by the main pujari of lord Jagannath.(So do you think he can beat baapi da??? 😉 ) ! Every year the chariots are newly built for the Rath Yatra. The massive task of building the chariots is completed within a span of just 58 days starting from the day of Akshaya Tritiya which occurs in the month of April-May.

The initiation day of the Yatra is observed as a public holiday in Orissa. So, children use this much awaited holiday to imitate the real Jatra at Puri. They flock the streets carrying diminutive versions of the chariots with small idols mounted on them.

On the day of the Rath Yatra of Puri Jagannath, the beautifully decorated idols of Lord Jagannath, Lord Balabhadra, Devi Subhadra and Sudarshana are carried one by one, by the volunteers and the Daitapatis to their respective chariots in the spectacular event called Pahandi. In the pic Lord Balabhadra on the way to his chariot.
There was a 15 lakh strong crowd this year and at times it got real scary! If you want to visit Puri during the Rath Yatra, make your accomodation arrangements well in advance. Due to the sheer number of people attending the event from all over the country and abroad, last minute preparations are definitely not possible.

People decorate their houses and shops with flowers, lights and rangolis for the festival. Traditional desserts and sweets are especially prepared for the occasion. It is also customary to refrain from non- vegetarian food during these days.

Falling in the Monsson season, the festivals also offers another reason for merry making to the people who take part in the celebrations as a symbol of thanking the God for showering a bountiful harvest upon them.
about an hour ago ·

The Chief Minister of Odisha, Mr. Navin Patnaik, made a visit to the festivities and pray to the presiding deities of Puri. The festival is also known as Gundicha Jatra, Ghosa Jatra, Navadina Jatra, Dasavatara Jatra and by a variety of other names.
Also every 12 years the Idols are also changed and new idols are built from wood cut from special trees. The new idols are also in the same incomplete form. This ceremony of changing idols is called Naba Kalebara.
After the idols are placed on their respective chariots, there is a riutal sweeping of chariots which is performed by the descendant of the Gajapati Kings of Puri.
A sea of colour as the Puri Jagannath Rath yatra begins! Each chariot is tied with 4 robust ropes made of coconut fibres. One by one the chariots are pulled by the lakhs of men and women who come to Puri Jagannath to participate in the Rath Yatra.
It is believed that volunteering to pull the chariot of Lord Jagannath washes away all our sins and liberates us from the cycle of birth and rebirth.
Then scented water is sprinkled all over the chariots. Then starts the day long Rath Yatra of Puri Jagannath. In the Pic: The back of the chariots are equally well decorated!
First comes the charitot of Lord Balabhadra which is known as Taladhwaja followed by the chariot of Devi Subhadra known as Darpadalana and finally the chariot of Lord Jagannath, the magnificent Nandighosa.

All three chariots are pulled from the Shrimandir to Gundicha Mandir, covering a distance of 3km. The chariots reach the Gundicha Mandir by the evening of the day and then the dieties stay in the Gundicha Mandir for 7 days.
A colorful rangoli/mural on the road leading to the chariot festival at Puri. Anyone can read what’s written and tanslate?
Puri is accessible from most Indian cities by a well connected network of trains. The nearest airport to Puri is at Bhubaneshwar, the capital city of the Indian state of Orissa. From Bhubaneshwar to Puri the distance is about 60km. In case you don’t find any accomodation in Puri, the next best thing to do is to stay at Bhubaneshwar and then drive down to Puri for the event.

There are many other legends associated with the Lord and his chariot. But what is interesting is the origin of the cult of Jagannath and his worship.

This was a really wonderful experiece for me and given a chance, would like to come back again!!

About Mahesh 17 Articles
Mahesh Mayuur is an Associate Consultant at Expicient Inc.(Publicis.Sapient Network). He is a MIT Manipal Alumnus batch of 2014. In his free time he dabbles in photography and traveling.