Travel Tips

Rath Yatra: A Guide To India's Chariots Festival

by Shruti Botadra
on 2017-01-24 17:17:45

Rath Yatra, the Festival of Chariots is celebrated every year at Puri, Orissa, India in the month of Ashadh according to Indian Calendar. This year the main event of Bada Danda of the festival will be commenced on the 18th July. 

Despite the rain falling during India’s monsoon season, the country’s Hindus crowd Bada Danda, Puri’s main drag, to honour their deity Lord Jagannath. An image of this avatar (incarnation) of Lord Krishna is transported, along with those of Jagannath’s brother Balabhadra and sister Subhadra, in three large, colourful raths (chariots).

Accompanied by up to a million pilgrims and tourists, the temple-like vehicles proceed from the main temple to Jagannath’s garden palace, where the idols holiday for a week. The festival possibly commemorates Krishna’s return from exile, but whatever its roots, pushing and pulling the chariots is a religious experience for the thousands who lend a hand.

Its a festival of glory of the Indian beliefs and no matter what, its a festival of pride for all the Hindus. Hence it is advisable to participate in every ritual taking place during the ceremony in order to enjoy the celebration and understand it closely. Participation will add to the experience to an other level. Joining this auspicious celebration takes a lot of planning and preparedness since the whole place will be full of tourists and busy with the festives. 

Do’s & Don’ts in Jagannath Puri Rath Yatra

This small list of do’s & don’ts for those devotees who are going for Rath Yatra to Jagannath Puri.

Do’s

1. For Gundicha Marjan buy a big pot – as big as you can for cleaning Gundicha Temple. If possible take bhoga’s pot. Why big???

For cleaning you have to fill the pot from hand pump (that is outside the Temple) to inside Temple. So with small pot u have to do in-out-in-out many times. Means waste of time.
After 1-2 pm Pandas (Pujari of Temple) close the Temple.
(Note: People with medical condition, children should avoid big pots)

2. Try to book your stay close to the Temple. Just to save time of internal traveling in Puri dham.

3. On Rath Yatra day get up early like 5 am & try to get in Temple before 6-7 am. The ceremony call Pahandi in which Panda (Pujari of Lord) carries Lord Jagannath from alter to Ratha, starts after 7 am. In this ceremony Lord Jagannath wears a beautiful Mukuta (TIARA) which is removed inside the Temple at this time. Its an event to capture since, Lord Jagannath dances inside the Temple. It is the most beautiful scene you will ever see. SO DON’T MISS IT. There will be ticket for entering inside the Temple, so book it one day before. It will be around 500 Rs. but its worth it.

4. Make a group of 6-8 & book an auto (TamTam) to take a tour of all holy Gaudiya Vaishnavas spots in Puri. There are around 8 spots. Auto driver will take 200-250 per person & he will take you to all spots. Take this tour on 2nd or 3rd day when most of roads are open for autos. This tour will take 5-6 hours with auto.

5. Check 7 Wonders of Jagannath Temples as follows (Its a belief in the grace of Lord Jagannath on the land of Puri) –

a) Flag always flaps in opposite direction of air
b) From any direction in Puri you will find Sudarshan Charka (Chakra at the top of the Temple) facing you alone
c) Normally during the day the wind blows from sea to land & in the evening its opposite but in Puri its totally opposite. During the day, the wind blows from land to sea and vice-a-versa from the evenings.
d) No bird or plane flies above the Temple
e) The shadow of the main dome is not visible at any time in any direction
f) The quantity of cooked food inside the Temple remains same for entire year. But same prasadam can feed few thousand people & 20 lac people also; still it won’t not get wasted or never lag. The kitchen is gifted with Akshaypatra the vessel with endless food.
g) In Jagannath Temple kitchen, 7 pots are kept on each other & cooked on wood fire. In this process the top pot gets cooked 1st & bottom one last.

h) After entering from Singhadwara’s first step inside the Temple you can’t hear any voice of ocean & when you cross the same step outside you can hear it. Mostly we can notice this at ant time clearly.

Don’ts:

1. If you are going in group then don’t order or arrange food (prasadam) in a particular hotel or Bhojanalya for entire group. Pay individually each time where ever you eat. Why not in group?

In Puri there are many hotels and bhojanalayas. Jagannath Puri is too big & during Yatra you have to travel by walking from hotel to Rath Yatra marg or any other spot. So if you order your food at any particular hotel then you have to travel to that hotel from wherever you are every time, so again waste of time. Anyway you have to pay for food then don’t waste your time in traveling, just eat at nearest hotel or bhojanalaya every time.

2. Don’t carry money & mobile in bead-bag or money belt. Again Why?

Local thefts know that Gaudiya Vaishnavas are becoming more & more fashionable nowadays. They know we are using zipper pocket bead-bag so they just steal our bead-bags. 

3. It is advisable to participate in pulling the Rath on the 2nd day to avoid the crowd on the 1st day. Almost 20Lac people participate in the ceremony on the 1st day, it has been fatal due to stampeds for new visitors.

4. You tend to get lost in the huge crowd so avoid travelling alone to ensure your safety too.

Have a wonderful Yatra and an auspicious Celebration!


auther - Shruti Botadra

Article By Shruti Botadra

A traveler and a writer. Perhaps travel for her is her journey to finding self, being with the world and understanding nature. For she will burst open the oyster of world with her adventure.