The Chariot festival is a part of celebration among the Hindu devotees. The time when Lord walks on his very own chariot around the pathway in one for the “Char Dham” destination city- Puri, also known as “Jagannath Puri”. The lord along with his clan is carried on his majestic chariot around and is believed to be a part of kings trip to ensure his followers wellbeing. This year, the Jagannath temple is all set to host the 142nd “Rath Yatra”. For every worshipper, Lords Chariot festival is a one day affair while in reality it’s a 11 day celebration festival which is celebrated in the month of Ashasha month as per Indian calendar. The day is considered to be very auspicious as lord comes out of his holy abode to bless the citizens. The holy trinity, Lord Jagannath, Lord Balbhadra and sister Subhadra travel on their individual chariots during this festival. When Lord Jagannath, revered as Patitapaban (saviour of the downtrodden), in a rare gesture of divinity comes out from the shrine to shower blessings on his devotees, the divine sight of him and his fellow deities redeems one from all sins.
Rath Yatra is also believed to second largest congregation after the “Kumbh” festival. Here’re some very interesting facts which every Jagannath devotee ought to know about this festival:
- Rath Yatra is an 11 Day Festival Affair: Rath Yatra in Puri spreads over 11 days (from the Rath Yatra day to Niladri Vijaya when the deities are carried back into the temple). The largest draw of devotees is seen on the days the chariots are pulled: the actual Rath Yatra day and the Bahuda Yatra or ‘return car festival’. This is the only occasion when everybody has access to the deities.
- Chariots With Different Wheel Sets: All the three deities of the temple – Jagannath, Subhadra and Balabhadra – travel in three different chariots during this festival. This is why it is also called as the Festival of Chariots. The chariots are called Nandighosha, Taladhwaja, and Devadalana respectively.
- The Mystery Behind Chariots: New chariots for all the three deities are constructed every year using wood even if the architect of the chariots remain similar. Four wooden horses are attached to each chariot. It is also said that the tree from which the chariots are built has some special signs and attributes which the primary priests mention.
- The Lord’s Persistence: It is believed that initially when the devotees pull the chariot of Lord Jagannath, he refuses to move. Even after hundreds of people push from behind and pull from front. The chariot refuses to move. It is only after few hours of the festivity and cosmic efforts that the chariot starts moving.
- Ritual Temple Shut Down Before Rath Yatra Day: One week before the Yatra, the door of the Jagannath temple are shut. It is believed that during that time Lord Jagannath rest due to high fever and after his rest for a week is complete, the Yatra begins.
- Defying Nature’s Code of Conduct: Any piece of cloth is dominated by the wind to fly according to its course. But, the flag mounted on the top of the Jagannath Temple is a unique exception to this principle. This particular flag flows in the opposite direction to the wind’s course without any scientific background to back it up.
- The Massive 45 storied Climb: Every day a priest climbs the walls of the temple with a height equivalent to that of a 45 storey building, to change the flag atop the temple dome. This ritual dates far back to the day the temple was built. The practice is done with bare hands without any protective gear. It’s believed if the ritual is skipped one day from the calendar, the temple will be shut down for a long 18 years. This might make the professional climbers jealous.
- Temple With No Shadows: The temple is reported to have no shadow at all, at any time of the day from any directions possible. Could it be an architectural marvel or the Lord Jagannath’s message to humanity?
- The Sudarshan Chakra Unsolvable Riddle: There are two riddles which don’t have any scientific explanation. They relate to the mystery present at the pinnacle of the temple in the form of the Sudarshan Chakra. The first oddity revolves around the theory of how the hard metal weighing about a tonne, just got up there without any machinery just with a human force of that century. The second is one deal with the architectural technique related to the Chakra. From every direction you look, the Chakra looks back with the same appearance. It’s like it was designed to look just the same from every direction.
- The Holy Prasadam is Never Futile: In Hindu mythology, wasting food is considered a bad sign; the Temple crew follows the same. A total number of people visiting the temple varies between 2,000 to 2, 00,000 people every day. Miraculously, the Parsadam prepared every day is never wasted, not even a bite. Could this be an effective management or the Lord’s will? The aroma and taste is no doubt un-questionable.
- The Breeze in Reverse Gear: Take any place on Earth, on daytime the breeze from sea comes to land and the opposite happens in the evening. But, in Puri, the breeze has a tendency to contradict and opt for the exact opposite direction. In the daytime, the breeze blows from land to sea and the opposite in the evening happens. This itself defies the Land Breeze and Sea Breeze principle.
- The Magical Method of Prasad Cooking: The traditional way to cook the Parsadam is preserved by the priests here. Exactly seven pots are used as vessels mounted over one another and are cooked using firewood. Enchantingly, the top most pot is cooked first, and the rest follows the same order! Even science doesn’t have any particular explanation to this method.
History and Culture are the fuel to the Hindu spirit. That’s what makes this culture so extraordinary, and after reading such celestial and bare eyed facts, one might share their opinion as well! So, do not forget to check these facts on your next trip to Odisha and share your experience with us. In case you plan to travel or maybe traveling this season via trains, you can enjoy Odisha special cuisines. Order food online in train at Bhubaneshwar, Puri, Cuttack stations during the holy trip.
Puri is well connected from all the major states via train. The nearest metro city Kolkata hosts major trains which connect you to Jagannath abode.