Ratha Yatra

Ratha Yatra also known as the festival of chariots is a Hindu festival associated with the god Jagannath held at Puri in the state of Odisha, India. This annual festival is celebrated on Ashad Shukla Dwitiya (second day in bright fortnight of Ashad month).The festival commemorates Jagannath’s annual visit to Gundicha Temple via aunt’s home (Mausi Maa Temple) which is near Balagandi Chaka in Puri.The chariot of Balabhadra moves first, followed by those of Subhadra and Jagannath. The chariots grind forward slowly until they reach the Gundicha temple and the three deities rest for a night at the entrance on their own chariots. They enter the Gundicha temple on the next day in the usual Pahandi style and stay there for seven days. Then the deities or Rathaa Yatra return to the Main temple. The return journey of Puri Jagannath Rathaa Jatra is known as Bahuda Jatra.

The Rathaas are huge wheeled wooden structures, which are built anew every year and are pulled by the devotees. The chariot for Jagannath is approximately 45 feet high and 35 feet square and takes about 2 months to construct. The artists and painters of Puri decorate the cars and paint flower petals etc. on the wheels, the wood-carved charioteer and horses, and the inverted lotuses on the wall behind the throne. The huge chariot of Jagannath pulled during Ratha Yatra is the etymological origin of the English word Juggernaut. The Ratha-Yatra is also termed as the Shri Gundicha yatra.

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