Puri Rath Yatra 2023: Devotees throng to witness Lord Jagannath’s chariot festival
Thousands of devotees gathered in Puri on Tuesday to witness the annual Rath Yatra or chariot festival of Lord Jagannath and his siblings. The festival marks the journey of the three deities – Lord Jagannath, Lord Balabhadra and Devi Subhadra – from their abode in the Jagannath Temple to their aunt’s house in the Gundicha Temple, about 3 km away.
The festival began with the ceremonial ‘Pahandi’ or procession of the deities from the sanctum sanctorum of the temple to their respective chariots parked outside. The deities were adorned with gold ornaments and colourful attires and carried by the temple servitors amid chants of ‘Jai Jagannath’ and ‘Hari Bol’.
The three chariots – Nandighosha for Lord Jagannath, Taladhwaja for Lord Balabhadra and Devadalana for Devi Subhadra – were then pulled by the devotees along the Grand Road or Bada Danda towards the Gundicha Temple. The chariots are wooden structures that are decorated with cloth, flowers and paintings and have wheels that are replaced every year.
The Rath Yatra is considered to be a symbol of equality and universal brotherhood as people from all walks of life participate in it without any discrimination. The festival also showcases the rich cultural heritage and traditions of Odisha.
The Rath Yatra will culminate on June 28, when the deities will return to their original temple in a similar procession called ‘Bahuda Yatra’ or return journey. On their way back, the deities will stop for a while at the Mausi Maa Temple or aunt’s house and partake of ‘Poda Pitha’, a special type of cake offered to them.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi, Odisha Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik, Governor Ganeshi Lal and other dignitaries extended their greetings to the people on the occasion of Rath Yatra. PM Modi said that he prayed to Lord Jagannath for the health, happiness and spiritual enrichment of everyone. CM Patnaik said that he hoped that the blessings of Lord Jagannath would bring peace, prosperity and harmony in the state and the country.