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Rathayatra, The Cart Festival of Puri, Odisha

The word juggernut has come from the Rath Yatra celebrated every year. Generations together millions of people participate and pull the tons of loaded chariot made of wood from the Jagannath Temple to the Gundicha temple (approx. four kilometer) every year during rath yatra. Rath yatra is a symbol of human power with devotion. This is a must for all the Hindus world wide atleast once during their life time. Rath means Chariot and its wheels, bodies base etc. are made of wood and being made / carved every year with new woods. Lord Jagannath temple has their own dedicated jungle for construction manufacturing the chariot every year.

Orissa is famous for its Rath Yatra in Puri, held every year. This festival is held to commemorate Lord Jagannath, who is said to have been the incarnation of India’s revered deities, Lord Vishnu and Lord Krishna.

Held for nine days, the colourful Jagannath Yatra attracts tourists not only from all over India, but also from abroad. On the first day of this Yatra, statues of Lord Krishna, Lord Jagannath’s brother Balabhadra and his sister – Subhadra are taken in a procession to the Gundicha temple, which is two kilometers away from the Jagannath temple.

On the ninth day, the statues are brought back with due ceremony. All these deities are worshipped by the lakhs of devotees that throng the city during these nine days.

The king, or raja of Puri arrives at the temple accompanied by heavily bejeweled elephants, to the loud beating of gongs. The raja, expressing his humility as a sevak (servant) of the lords, sweeps the chariots with a golden broom.

The idols of the deities are carried in three separate raths, or chariots, each several feet high and pulled by strong ropes. Balram’s rath, the first to be taken out, is blue in colour. This is followed by Subhadra’s rath, which is in black. Lord Krishna’s rath comes last, and is coloured yellow. Pulling or even touching the ropes of these chariots is considered to be auspicious and many struggle to do so. Legend has it that those who can see all the chariots moving in the south direction will be granted salvation.

New chariots are made each year; the older ones are broken down to be used in the kitchen or sold as souvenirs to believers. Stories abound of pilgrims throwing themselves in the path of the chariots, in the belief that death under these chariot wheels will bring them eternal peace.

This annual festival also commemorates Lord Krishna’s journey from Gokul to Mathura, symbolising a journey from darkness to light.

Jagannath Puri Dham is one of the four main dhams in India, being of great relevance in our present age – which is referred to as Kalyuga, according to the Hindu belief and scriptures.

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