Ratha Yatra (Puri)

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Ratha Yatra of Puri
Rath Yatra Puri 07-11027.jpg
Three chariots of the deities with the temple in the background, Puri
Also calledGhosha Jātrā
Observed byHindu
BeginsĀshādha Shukla Dvitiyā
EndsĀshādha Shukla Dashami
2023 date20 June
Nandighosa Ratha during Covid-19
Nandighosa Ratha during Covid-19 Ratha Yatra
Chariot is under construction
Chariot is under construction
Pahandi of Jagannath during Rathajatra 2017.

The Ratha Yatra of Puri, also rendered as the Ratha Jatra (Odia: ରଥଯାତ୍ରା, lit. 'chariot festival') (/ˈrʌθə ˈjɑːtrɑː/, Odia pronunciation: [ɾɔt̪ʰɔ dʒat̪ɾa]), is considered the oldest and largest Hindu chariot festival celebrated annually, on the bright half of the lunar month of Ashadh (June–July).[1][2] The festival is held at the city of Puri, in the state of Odisha, India and associated with the deity Jagannath (a form of Vishnu or Krishna).[1] During the festival, three deities (Jagannath, his brother Balabhadra and sister Subhadra) are drawn by a multitude of devotees in three massive, wooden chariots on bada danda (the grand avenue) to Gundicha Temple whereby they reside there for a week and then return to the Jagnannath temple.[1][3]

The "Bada Danda" or the Grand Avenue

On the way, the chariot of Jagannatha, Nandighosa (ନନ୍ଦିଘୋଷ) waits near the crematorium of Bhakta Salabega (ଭକ୍ତ ସାଲବେଗ), a Muslim devotee, to pay him tribute.

On their way back from the Gundicha Temple, the three deities stop for a while near the Mausi Maa Temple (Aunt's abode) and have an offering of the Poda Pitha, which is a special type of pancake supposed to be the deity's favourite. After a stay of seven days, the deities return to their abode.


Descriptions of the Ratha Yatra can be found in Brahma Purana, Padma Purana, the Skanda Purana, and the Kapila Samhita.[4] Records of the festival have been noted by European travelers since the 13th century, with the most prominent and vivid descriptions noted in the 17th century.[5]

The Chariots

The three chariots of Jagannath, Balabhadra and Subhadra are newly constructed every year with wood of specified trees like phassi, dhausa, etc. They are customarily brought from the ex-princely state of Dasapalla by a specialist team of carpenters who have hereditary rights and privileges for the same. The logs are traditionally set afloat as rafts in the river Mahanadi. These are collected near Puri and then transported by road.[6]

The three chariots are decorated as per the unique scheme prescribed and followed for centuries stand on the Bada Danda, the Grand Avenue. The chariots are lined across the wide avenue in front of the temple close to its eastern entrance, which is also known as the Sinhadwara or the Lion's Gate.

Around each of the chariots are nine Parsva devatas, painted wooden images representing different deities on the chariots' sides. Each chariot has a charioteer (Sarathi) and four horses.

Chariot Details Jagannath Balabhadra Subhadra
Name of Chariot Nandighosha (ନନ୍ଦିଘୋଷ) Taladhwaja (ତାଳଧ୍ୱଜ) Darpadalana (ଦର୍ପଦଳନ)
Alternates name of Chariot Garudadhwaja, Kapidhwaja Langaladhwaja Devadalana, Padmadhwaja
Lord Shri Jagannath on His Chariot Nandighosha.jpg
Chariot Taladhwaja of Lord Balabhadra.jpg
Chariot Devidalana of Goddess Subhadra.jpg
Number of wheels 16 14 12
Total Number of wooden pieces used 832 763 593
Height 44' 2" 43' 3" 42' 3"
Length and breadth 34'6" x 34'6" 33' x 33' 31'6" x 31'6"
Colours of the canopies Red, Yellow

(yellow associated with Vishnu)

Red, Bluish green Red, Black

(Black associated with the Goddess)

Guardian Garuda Vasudeva Jayadurga
Charioteer Daruka Matali Arjuna
Flag name Trailokyamohini Unnani Nadambika
Flag emblem Palm Tree
Name of Horses
  1. Shankha
  2. Balahaka
  3. Shweta
  4. Haridashwa
  1. Tibra
  2. Ghora
  3. Dirghasharma
  4. Swarnanava
  1. Rochika
  2. Mochika
  3. Jita
  4. Aparajita
Colour of Horses White Black Red
Name of Chariot Rope Sankhachuda Nagini Basuki Naga Swarnachuda Nagini
Accompanying deity Madanmohan Ramakrishna Sudarshana
Gatekeepers (Dvarapala)
  1. Jaya
  2. Vijaya
  1. Nanda
  2. Sunanda
  1. Ganga
  2. Jamuna
Nine parshvadevata (Subsidiary deities)
  1. Panchamukhi Mahabir (Hanuman)
  2. Harihara
  3. Madhusudana (Vishnu)
  4. Giridhar (Krishna)
  5. Pandu Narasingha
  6. Chitamani Krishna
  7. Narayana (Vishnu)
  8. Chatra Bhanga Rabana (Rama)
  9. Rama seated on Hanuman
  1. Ganesha
  2. Kartikeya
  3. Sarvamangala
  4. Pralambari (Balarama)
  5. Halayudha (Balarama)
  6. Mrityunjaya (Shiva)
  7. Natamvara (Shiva)
  8. Mukteswar (Shiva)
  9. Sheshadeva
  1. Chandi
  2. Chamunda
  3. Ugratara
  4. Banadurga (Durga)
  5. Shulidurga (Durga)
  6. Varahi
  7. Shyamakali
  8. Mangala
  9. Vimala

Chandana Yatra

The Chandan yatra or "Sandalwood Festival" is a 42 day period that marks the beginning of construction work for the chariots. The period is divided in half, consisting of 21 days each. The first half is known as Bahar chandan, whereby the representative images of the presiding deities are taken out in colorful processions and given a ceremonial boat ride in the Narendra tank every day. These deities include Madan Mohan (Jagannath), Rama-Krishna, Lakshmi, Saraswati and the Pancha Pandava - the presiding deities of the five main Shiva temples. The latter, known as Bhitar chandan, consists of various rituals not open to the public.[7] The construction of the chariots starts on Akshaya Tritiya, the third day of the bright fortnight of Vaisakha, with ritual fire worship. This takes place in front of the palace of the King of Puri and opposite the main office of the Puri temple. Later the deities have a ritual bath in a small temple in the middle of the tank, in stone tubs filled with water, sandalwood paste, scents, and flowers.

This sandalwood festival culminates in the Snana Yatra or "Bathing Festival" which takes place on the full moon day of the month of Jyeshtha. The deities, Jagannath, Balbhadra and Subhadra are bathed with 108 pots of water and then remain in symbolic and ritual convalescence for about two weeks. They are barred from the view of the public.[8] Only three special patta chitras, traditional Oriya paintings of natural colors on cloth stiffened with starch, known as Anasara Pattis, are strung on a bamboo screen hiding the deities from public view, can be seen by the public. During this period, the deities are given only roots, leaves, berries and fruits to cure them of their indisposition. This ritual is a reminder of the strong tribal elements in the genesis and evolution of the Jagannatha cult. The progeny of Lalita, daughter of the original tribal worshipper Biswabasu, chieftain of hunters, and the Brahmin priest Vidyapati, are known as daitapatis or daitas. They have the almost exclusive privilege of serving the deityduring the convalescence and through the entire period of Ratha Jatra or the Festival of Chariots.

Suna Besha (ସୁନା ବେଶ)

The Suna Besha of Jagannath

After the chariots of the deities return to the main temple from the Gundicha temple, the deities are attired in gold ornaments and worshipped on the chariots. This celebration is known as Suna Besha. Tradition maintains that this event was first started by King Kapilendra Deva in 1460, when after returning victorious from war he donated gold to Jagannath.[9] The deities are adorned with gold jewelry weighing nearly 208  kg. In 2014 nearly nine hundred thousand devotees witnessed this event held on 9 July[10]

The Ratha Yatra and Pahandi of 2015

Lakhs of devotees thronged the coastal town of Puri to catch the glimpse of deities re-embodied after 19 years on chariots on the occasion of Rath Yatra, marking largest-ever religious congregation in Odisha.

International Ratha Yatras

Rath Yatra Festival in New York
Rath Yatra Festival in Toronto

The Ratha Yatra festival has become a common sight in most major cities of the world since 1968 through the ISKCON Hare Krishna movement. A. C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada popularised the festival globally, which now happens on an annual basis in over 108 cities including: Moscow, New York, Houston, Atlanta, London, Rome, Zürich, Kolkata, Mumbai, Karachi, Berlin, Heidelberg, Cologne, Florence, Wroclaw, Sydney, Perth, Kampala, Nairobi, Mombasa, Kisumu, Mexico City, Dublin, Belfast, Manchester, Birmingham, Alchevsk, Buenos Aires, Madrid, Stockholm, Bath, Budapest, Auckland, Melbourne, Montreal, Paris, Copenhagen, Amsterdam, Los Angeles, Toronto, Vancouver, Santiago, Tallinn, Lima, Antwerp, Sofia, Kuala Lumpur, Dubai, Oslo, Zhongshan, Myitkyina, Bangkok, Port of Spain, Manama and many other cities.[11] The Ratha Yatra in Dhamrai, Bangladesh, is one of the most important in Bangladesh.

Ratha Yatra dates

This table shows the dates for Ratha Yatra held in Puri, Odisha. These dates shows from the Year Nabakalebara, 2015 to the Year of next (After 19 years) Nabakalebara, 2034.

Ratha Yatra in Puri
Year Starting Date

(Ashadha Shukla Dvitiya)

Ending Date

(9th day Of Ratha Yatra)


(Nabakalebara, 2015)

18 July 26 July
2016 6 July 14 July
2017 25 June 3 July
2018 14 July 22 July
2019 4 July 12 July
2020 23 June 1 July
2021 12 July 20 July
2022 1 July 9 July
2023 20 June 28 June
2024 7 July 15 July
2025 27 June 5 July
2026 16 July 24 July
2027 5 July 13 July
2028 23 June 1 July
2029 13 July 21 July
2030 2 July 10 July
2031 22 June 30 June
2032 9 July 17 July
2033 28 June 6 July

(Nabakalebara, 2034)

17 July 25 July

Service offerings

Jagannath temple employs different kinds of sevakas who offer their services on the Ratha.

  • Suara
  • Mahasuara
  • Dahuka: Ratha dahuka boli (Odia: ଡାହୁକ ବୋଲି, also "Dahuka gita" (ଡାହୁକ ଗୀତ)) which are poetic recitations. Ratha Yatra being a symbolic expression of fertility and Life cycle, these "boli" sung by the Dahuka contain bawdy songs. It is believed that unless the Dahuka boli is sung 'Ratha' does not move.[12] These songs are sung publicly without any kind of hold on the lyrics.[13] Dahuka controls the movement of Ratha during the festival.[14][15]
  • Daita pati
  • Puspalaka
  • Banati Players: Banati is an age-old art, in which a person spins balls set on fire and tied to the ends of a rope. Every year during the Rath yatra devotees perform "Banati" to appease Jagannath.[16] Knives and fireballs, which are attached to the Banati add colour to the procession of the deity as it reaches its destination

Hera Panchami

Hera Panchami is a ritual observed during the period of Rath Yatra in the Grand Jagannath Temple of Puri. It is known as a ritual of Goddess Lakshmi. The fifth day from Rath Yatra, i.e., the fifth day in bright fortnight of Ashadha is known as the Hera Panchami.[17][18] During Ratha Yatra, lord Jagannath comes out on a divine outing with his brother Sri Balabhadra and sister Maa Subhadra along with his divine weapon Sri Sudarshana, leaving behind His wife Mahalaxmi. The Goddess expresses her anger for the deity. She proceeds to the Gundicha Temple, the Adapa Mandapa in a palanquin in the form of a Subarna Mahalaxmi and threatens Him to come back to the temple at the earliest. To make Her pleased, the deityconcedes to Her by offering her agyan mala (a garland of consent). Seeing the Goddess furious, the sevakas close the main door of the Gundicha. Mahalaxmi returns to the main temple through the Nakachana gate. In a unique ritual, the Goddess orders one of her attendants to damage a part of the Nandighosa chariot. This is followed by her hiding behind a tamarind tree outside the Gundicha Temple. After some time, she escapes to her home temple in secrecy, through a separate path way known as Hera Gohri Lane[19] The unique ritual is enjoyed by lakhs of devotees of Jagannath.

The rituals of Hera Panchami as an important function of Srimandira finds mention in Skanda Purana. According to the history of the Temple, this "utsav" started during the time of Maharaja Kapilendra Deb. Before his reign, the Hera Panchami function was being observed in a symbolic way with recitation of Mantras.As stated in Madala Panji, Raja Kapilendra Deb substituted this practice with the introduction of an idol of Mahalaxmi made of gold and making the celebration more realistic.[20]

See also


  1. 1.0 1.1 1.2 Lochtefeld, James G. (2002). The Illustrated Encyclopedia of Hinduism: N-Z. Rosen. p. 567. ISBN 978-0-8239-3180-4. Archived from the original on 15 April 2023. Retrieved 23 April 2023.
  2. "Rath Yatra: The legend behind world's largest chariot festival". BBC News. 4 July 2019. Archived from the original on 17 February 2023. Retrieved 15 June 2023.
  3. Chakraborty, Yogabrata (28 June 2023). "পুরীধাম ও জগন্নাথদেবের ব্রহ্মরূপ বৃত্তান্ত" [Puridham and the tale of lord Jagannath's legendary 'Bramharup']. dainikstatesmannews.com (in Bengali). Kolkata: Dainik Statesman (The Statesman Group). Archived from the original on 28 June 2023. Retrieved 28 June 2023.
  4. Purana, Padma Purana (July 2005). "Vedic Background of Jagannath Cult" (PDF). Archived (PDF) from the original on 23 September 2021. Retrieved 15 June 2023.
  5. Kulke, Hermann (1980). "Rathas and Rajas: The Car Festival at Puri" (PDF). The Journal of Orissan History. 1 (1): 28–39.
  6. Staff Reporter (11 July 2021). "Puri decked up for Rath Yatra without devotees for second successive year". The Hindu. ISSN 0971-751X. Archived from the original on 13 July 2021. Retrieved 13 July 2021.
  7. Melton, J. Gordon (13 September 2011). Religious Celebrations: An Encyclopedia of Holidays, Festivals, Solemn Observances, and Spiritual Commemorations [2 volumes]: An Encyclopedia of Holidays, Festivals, Solemn Observances, and Spiritual Commemorations. ABC-CLIO. p. 171. ISBN 978-1-59884-206-7.
  8. Verma, Manish (2013). Fasts and Festivals of India. Diamond Pocket Books (P) Ltd. p. 31. ISBN 978-81-7182-076-4.
  9. "Jagannath glitters in golden get-up". The Times of India. 9 July 2014. Archived from the original on 12 July 2014. Retrieved 13 July 2014.
  10. "Jagannath glitters in golden get-up". The Times of India. 9 July 2014. Archived from the original on 12 July 2014. Retrieved 13 July 2014.
  11. "Festival of India". Archived from the original on 25 February 2009. Retrieved 17 November 2012.
  12. Ethnographic and Folk-Culture Society (Lucknow, India) (2001). The Eastern anthropologist, Volume 54. Lucknow, India. Archived from the original on 5 April 2023. Retrieved 29 October 2016.{{cite book}}: CS1 maint: location missing publisher (link)
  13. Surendra, Mahanty (1982). Lord Jagannatha: the microcosm of Indian spiritual culture. Bhubaneswar, Orissa: Orissa Sahitya Akademi. p. 93.
  14. B. B. Jena (1980). Orissa, people, culture, and polity. Kalyani Publishers. p. 313. ISBN 9788123726731. Retrieved 26 March 2012.
  15. Sarat Chandra Mahapatra (1994). Car Festival of Lord Jagannath, Puri. Puri, India: Sri Jagannath Research Centre (Purī, India). Retrieved 26 March 2012.
  16. ""Banati" players perform martial art ode to Lord Jagannath". Hindustan Times, Delhi – via HighBeam Research (subscription required). 27 June 2006. Archived from the original on 1 June 2013. Retrieved 15 September 2012.
  17. "Hera Panchami – Articles - Jagannath Dham". jagannathdham.com. 2012. Archived from the original on 14 August 2012. Retrieved 25 June 2012. It is celebrated on Ashada Shukla Panchami, fifth day in bright fortnight of Ashadha month in Oriya calendar.
  18. "Rituals of Car Festival of Puri". Archived from the original on 11 May 2012. Retrieved 25 June 2012. 'Hera' means to 'see' and 'Panchami' means the 'fifth day'.
  19. "Hera Panchami". orissadiary.com. 2012. Archived from the original on 23 June 2012. Retrieved 25 June 2012. Laxmi sets out in night and visits the Gundicha Temple through Badadanda and returns secretly through the Heragohiri Sahi or street after breaking a piece of wood of Nandigosha Ratha
  20. Dash, Durgamadhaba. "The Ritual of Herapanchami and Lord Jagannath" (PDF) (April, 2015): 6–10. Retrieved 17 August 2015. {{cite journal}}: Cite journal requires |journal= (help)

External links