The Chariot Festival of Puri or Ratha Yatra is any public procession in a chariot. More specifically, the term refers to the annual Ratha Yatra in Odisha, Jharkhand, West Bengal and other East Indian states, particularly the one held in Odisha.


Lord Jagannath associated with the Chariot Festival of Puri. Ratha Yatra or Ratha Jatra is the celebration of Lord Jagannath’s ( The Lord of Universe ) journey towards his aunt’s house. In this journey, he is accompanied by his elder brother Lord Balabhadra, sister Subhadra and the Celestial Wheel – Sudarshana Chakra. The oldest chariot festival, whose description is there in Brahma Purana, Padma Purana, Skanda Purana and Kapila Samhita.


Puri’s Ratha Yatra is a symbol of unity, brotherhood and peace. Thousands of devotees from all over the country travel to Puri to ensure good fortune by pulling The Lord’s Chariot. Every year on the second day of Shukla Paksha in the month of Ashadha, as per the Hindu calendar, the festival takes place. The Jagannath Temple in Puri, Odisha, organises this Ratha Yatra. King Chodangan Dev built the existing temple in the 12th century. The temple constructed in the Kalinga architectural style. During Ratha Yatra, Lord Jagannath, Lord Balabhadra and Goddess Subhadra ride in separate chariots to reach the Gundicha Temple. According to one legend, Lord Jagannath along with his siblings, visit this temple every year as promised to Queen Gundicha, the wife of King Indradyumna, who built the Jagannath Temple in Puri.


Firstly, the three chariots of Jagannath, Balabhadra and Subhadra newly constructed every year with the wood of specified trees with certain specified symbols. The three chariots however decorated every year as per the unique scheme followed for centuries. The name of Lord Jagannath’s chariot is eventually Nandighosa, that of Lord Balabhadra is Taladhwaja and Goddess Subhadra’s chariot is Darpadalana. These huge, colourful decorated chariots is however drawn by multitude of devotees on the Bada Danda, the Grand Avenue. The number of wooden pieces used in making Nandighosa 832,  that used in Taladhwaja 763 and the number of wooden pieces used in making Darpadalana are 593. After an eight-day visit to their aunt’s house, they return to Puri Temple on the same three chariots. This return journey known as “Ulto Ratha”.


The devotees believe that Lord Jagannath, the Lord of the Universe, comes out of the temple only once in a year, for those devotees who cannot enter the temple. Thus people seeking salvation or ” Moksha”, the Puri Ratha Yatra holds tremendous significance. Thus anyone, who draws or touches the rope connected to the deities’ chariots will attain salvation.


Jagannath Ratha Yatra is celebrated in Puri, Odisha on 1st July 2022. The due date of the return journey (Ulto Ratha or Bahuda Yatra) is July 8.


In conclusion, the Jagannath Ratha Yatra is an important annual festival held in India. This year’s Ratha Yatra is very special because people got to witness and participate in the live Jagannath Ratha Yatra. Thus after a hiatus of 2years, owing to the Covid-19 Pandemic.


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