Witness the Holy Ride of Lord Jagannath – Ratha Yatra

The annual function of Rath Jatra was held on the 4th of July, 2019. Every year this ceremony draws thousands of people to witness the Holy Ride of Lord Jagannath, along with sister Subhadra and brother Balabhadra in their Chariots. The huge Chariots are built months in Advance and people throng in huge numbers to pull the rope of the Ratha or Chariot. Young ones have fun buying and playing with play chariots and other toys. This event is celebrated mainly in the eastern part of India, with Puri garnering the major significance as the Famous Jagannath Temple in Puri is the abode of Lord Jagannath and his siblings.

To witness few glimpses of the festival, we bring for you a collaboration of shots of the Annual festival.

Krishanu Chanda

It was the fourteenth century. Drubananda Brahmachari, a great Bengali sage went to Puri for pilgrimage. He had a desire to offer Lord Jagannath ‘Bhoga’ with his own hand. But the Temple authority prevented him do so. Broken-hearted Drubananda decided to fast until death. On the third day, he heard the Lord’s voice in his dream, “Drubananda, go back to Bengal. At the bank of Bhagirathi, you will find a place called Mahesh. There I shall send you a huge Daru-Brahma (Neem trunk). Make Balarama, Subhadra and my Idol with this trunk. I am eager to have ‘Bhoga’ in your hand.” So Drubanada returned to Mahesh and started his Sadhana. Then in a scary rainy night, that Daru-Brahma appeared at Mahesh. He jumped into the water and received it. Then he made the Idols of the Holy Trinity and established a Temple.

After taking sanyas, Sri Chaitanya left for Puri. In the way, he reached at Mahesh. After visiting Drubananda’s Temple, he lost his sense, and absorbed in deep Samādhi. Sri Chaitanya christened Mahesh as ‘Naba Nilachal’ meaning the ‘new Puri’. Later old Drubananda requested him to take charge of the temple. On his request he made Kamalakar Piplai, the fifth of his twelve Gopalas, the sebait of the temple. After few days Dhrubananda died.

Kamalakar Piplai was, as it is mentioned earlier, fifth of the twelve Gopalas of Sri Chaitanya. He was the son of the Zamindar of Khalijuli in Sunderbans. He came to Navadwip to study Logic. Later he became a favorite of Mahaprabhu and joined his ministry. He was the first of the 64 Mohantas. After taking the charge of Mahesh Temple, he remained there and it is he who started the famous chariot festival, more than 600 years ago. His heirs still lives in Mahesh and some in Kolkata as the Sebait or ‘Adhikary’ of the Temple.
But nor the Ratha neither the Temple of Kamalakar has existed. The modern Temple was made by Nayanchand Mallik of Pathuriaghata, Kolkata in 1755. It cost Rs. 20,000.The present ratha or the chariot was constructed under the patronage of Krishnaram Basu by the Martin Burn Company in 1885. The cost of the construction was two million rupees. The ratha is a Nabaratna temple having nine shikharas. The ratha has a steel framework with wooden scaffolding. It is fitted with twelve iron wheels each measuring twelve inches in circumference. The ratha is four storied, measuring 50 feet in height and 125 tonnes in weight. Two copper horses are attached to the front.
The snanayatra is held on the full moon day preceding the rathayatra. On the day of snanyatra, the idols of Jagannath, Balaram and Subhadra are bathed in generous quantities of milk and Ganges water. It is believed that the idols suffer from fever due to the heavy bath. So three physicians, one each from Arambag, Goghat and Ghatal are summoned to treat the deities. They offer a liquid mixture as the medicine, which are then administered on the idols. Gradually their fever lapses and they regain normal health. Unlike the idols in Puri’s Jagannath temple which are changed every twelve years, the same idols prepared by the founder Kamalakar Pipilai is used till date. However, two days after the snanayatra and just two weeks before the rathayatra, the angaraga ceremony is held. This is a three-day ceremony where the idols are repainted using herbal pigments behind closed doors. The artist covers his face and hairs while painting the idols and has only one vegetable meal a day for three days. He doesn’t charge any money for the services.A day before the rathayatra, Jagannath is sworn in as the king. On the day of the rathayatra, the Jagannath idol placed on the highest storey of the ratha. The idols of Balaram and Subhadra are also placed in the ratha. A neelkanthabird is brought and made to sit at the topmost shikhara of the chariot. When the bird flies away the procession starts.Not only this festival is the oldest but also the biggest Rathayatra in Bengal. Nearly 2-3 lakh people come to see the month-long fair. Lord goes to Gundicha Temple and remains there till Punarjatra, or Ultorath, as it is popularly known in Bengal.Sri Ramakrishna his wife Sarada Devi, Dramatist Girish Chandra Ghosh etc. many people came to visit the famous fair of the lord.
Bankim Chandra Chatterjee’s famous novel ‘Radharani’ consists of a wonderful description of Mahesh Rathayatra. Radharani, the little heroine of the novel got lost in the fair, and then found by her future lover. Bankim’s description does not only gives a vivid picture of the festival but also it gave the fair a romantic literary charm. It is said that even today one can feel the brokenhearted girl’s sorrow. 

Source: Wikipedia

Siddharth Kullu

My name’s Siddharth Chandra and I’m a student.I got to know about weekend trivia featuring rath pictures. I clicked the single rath picture on canon sx400 camera and rest two pictures with my phone Xiaomi 3S Prime.I clicked this picture in Rourkela, Odisha.I lost some pictures as they were of last year so I sent those I have.Along with these I have sent my own picture like a dp as said. Thank you

Sumit Parmar

I am a 23year MBBS Doctor. These picture are taken at Surat Rathyatra. Photos are taken with Mi3s prime Mobile and Sony Digicam.

Rimita Sen

Hi, My name is Rimita and I had been documenting people and festivals for last 4 years. I love to document on human interests as the human emotions and their expressions have always attracted me. I had been documenting the Kolkata Rathyatra for last 3 years. A huge number of devotees come down to the Albert Road Jagannatha Temple of Iskcon from the morning and awaits to find a glimpse of Jagannath Prabhu. The believe in their eyes in their chants and in their patience attracts me every time. The posture of hands up in the air signifying submission to the lord has its own story. This human gathering also shows how diverse culture unites in the name of Lord Jagannatha. In the photographs taken I tried to capture the emotions as well as the strength of unity amidst of diversity. The gear i used for documenting these are D5100 with Nikon 18-105 and tokina 11-16 lens.

Tathagatha Talukdar

This Ratha Yatra is almost 28 years old. The procession starts from Tank No. 2 & ended at karunamoyee. hree 25 feet – large well-decorated chariots of Lord Jagannath, Maata Subhadra and Lord Balaram are pulled through a 5km route by over 15 thousand devotees.The procession included dance troupe performances on Bengali and Hindi devotional music on mobile stages built on trailers. The devotees sang and danced with the procession as well. Hundreds of people carried out Aarti of the chariots at various aarti points. 
The Mela which is related about this event took place at karunamoye ground field.

Pallavi Saha

I am PALLAVI SAHA . I am a pharmacy student , who just completed her graduation from NSHM Knowledge Campus , kolkata ; and going to pursue master degree in the same field soon. Along with studies I am bibliophile,guitarist and  photography addict. I love freezing moments using my lenses.  There is a story behind every photograph and I love learning them.All the 4 photographs were taken by me on last year rath yatra in Puri , odisha using my Galaxy J7 prime phone camera. The first three photos are of lord Jaganath’s chariot named NANDIGHOSH , along with Pravu  himself . Last one is of the  chariots of all the three gods , Lord Jaganath , Goddess Subhadra and Lord balaram

Biren Das

Hello, I am Biren Das. I am an engineering student with that I am a photographer, a professional cinematographer, and a graphic designer.
The pictures were shot during “Rath Yatra” at “Saheed Nagar, Bhubaneswar, Odisha”. It was taken using Canon 700D using a 55-250mm zoom lens.

Sayantani Basu

Hi, this is Sayantani Basu from Kolkata. When we say anything about Rath we usually think about the famous rath yatra of “Puri/Odisha”. But other parts of India also celebrate this auspicious day. This picture was taken at “Khardah” West Bengal. where you can easily find the madness of the crowd! some of them wait from the morning in the crowd to touch the rope of the rath as they think it is holy to touch.

Meet Gajjar

Did you participate in the celebrations? Do let us know in the comments!

Cover picture: Krishanu Chanda

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