Rath Yatra: Significance, history and an opportunity to serve the Lord
Puri, July 04: Rath Yatra or the Chariot festival, is one of the holiest and oldest festivals of Hindus held at Puri, Odisha. Rath Yatra, takes places in India and across the world, whose description can be found in BRAMHA PURANA, PADMA PURANA, SKANDA PURANA and KAPILA PURANA.
This annual festival takes place on Assadha Shukla PakshaDuitiya. This festival commence mate Lord Jagannath's annual visits to the Gundicha Temple (Aunts Home) "Mausi" home near Balagundi Chhaka , Puri.
Rath Yatra celebrates the return of Krishna with his brother and sister Balarama and Subhadra to Vrindavan. The idol of Lord Jagannath, Balabhadra and Subhadra are taken out in a procession. They will stay at their aunt's home for nine days, accompanied by Sudarshanna Chakra. The three Chariots are decorated so beautifully, and the chariots are resembled as temple's structure are pulled through the streets of Puri called Badadanda.
The Rath is about approximately 45 ft and is pulled by thousand of piigrims. The Rath renews every year from a particular type of tree.
This is the only day for the devotees who are not allowed inside the temple premises. During this chariot festival people across the world come to Puri to get the glimpse of the lord Jagannath and pull the chariot with the help of other chariots.
Rath-yatra is a contribution of Srila Prabhupada, the founder-acharya of ISKCON who used to worshipped Lord Jagannatha during his childhood. Once his father arranged a small rath and young Abhay, who was later named as Srila Prabhupada, performed Rath-yatra in his neighbourhood and distributed prasad to children. The childhood play later became a world-wide celebration.
Significance of the yatra:
Regarding the significance of this Ratha-yatra, this festival is a mass movement for enlightening people about the Krishna consciousness movement. It is being said that taking part in the yatra is a step forward towards self-realisation.
Rath-yatra gives an opportunity to the people including non-devotees to serve the Lord at least for one day by chanting His holy names, remembering him. Those who build the rath or participate in other preparations of the festival serve their energy, possessions and talents in the service of the Lord. The devotion purifies one's materially contaminated inner-self and helps in developing attachment for Jagannatha.