The Rath Yatra of the famous Jagannath Puri Temple in Orissa is one of the most awaited Hindu festivals, especially in the eastern state.
Popularly known as the ‘Festival of Chariots’, the Rath Yatra festival will begin on July 4 this year and will be dedicated to Lord Jagannath, his sister Goddess Subhadra and elder brother Balabhadra. The annual Hindu festival is celebrated on the second day of Shukla Paksh (bright fortnite) in the Ashadha month of the Hindu calendar. It is said that on this day, Lord Jagannath, along with his siblings, visits Gundicha Temple via Mausi Maa Temple (aunt’s home) near Balagandi Chaka, Puri.
As the annual procession begins on July 4 this year, here are some interesting facts about the Jagannath Rath Yatra:
1. Every year, a team of carpenters (that number around 1400) voluntarily build the huge chariots from scratch by a team of carpenters who do this job every year voluntarily. Not a single metal nail is used in making of the chariots.
2. Lord Jagannath’s chariot, named Nandighosa, has a height of 44 ft and two inches, along with 16 wheels each having a diameter of 6 feet. The chariot’s colour is yellow and red, and the horses are white in colour and their names are Shankha, Balahaka, Suweta and Haridashwa.
3. The chariot of Lord Balabhadra, named Taladhwaja, has a height of 43 feet and 3 inches and 14 wheels measuring six feet six inches in diameter. The chariot is green and red in colour, and the horses are black. The names of the horses are Tribra, Ghora, Dirghasharma and Swornanava.
4. The chariot of Goddess Subhadra is named Debadalana and has a height of 43 feet and three inches. The chariot has 12 wheels, measuring six feet eight inches in diameter and is black and red in colour. The horses’ colour for Devi Subhadra’s chariot is red and their names are Rochika, Mochika, Jita and Aparajita.
5. Apart from different names for the chariot, the flags on top of each chariot as well as the ropes with which they are pulled also have a unique name.
6. The wood used in its construction comes from two nearby forests Dashpalla and Ranapur. After the Rath Yatra, the chariots are dismantled and the wood is used in the kitchen of Jagannath Temple to cook Mahaprasad.
7. The movement of chariot commences after the King of Puri sweeps all the chariots with a broom made out of gold, using fragrant water.
8. While the work of pulling chariots is usually done by men, at Baripada in Mayurbhanj district of Orissa, only women are allowed to pull the rath (chariot) of Goddess Subhadra.
9. The construction of the chariots starts on Akshaya Tritiya, in front of the palace of the King of Puri and opposite the main office of the Puri temple.
10. Lord Jagannath and his siblings halt on the way back to their own abode after a stay of 9 days at the Gundicha Temple. It is said that they have Poda Pitha, a popular dessert in Odisha, on their way back.