Car Festival or Chariot Festival, Jagannath Puri

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Rath Yatra festival in Puri, Orissa, India
Ratha Yatra (also called as Car Festival or Chariot Festival) is a Hindu festival associated with Lord Jagannath held at Puri in the state of  Odisha, India.

It is the oldest Ratha Yatra taking place in India and the World, whose descriptions can be found in Brahma Purana, Padma Purana, and Skanda Purana and Kapila Samhita.

Ratha Jatra, the Festival of Chariot: Chariots of Shri Jagannath is celebrated every year at Puri, the temple town in Odisha, on the second (Dwitiya) day of Shukla pakhya (waxing cycle of the moon) of Ashadha Maasa (3rd month in Lunar Calendar).
Pahandi of Lord Jagannath during Rathajatra 2017.
There are 6 events that are considered as the key activities of this annual spectacular event.
 
1. ‘Snana Yatra’ is the one where the Deities take bath and then fell sick for almost 2 weeks. They are thus treated with ayurvedic medicines and a set of traditional practices.

2. On ‘Sri Gundicha’, the Deities are taken in the onward car festival from the main shrine to the Gundicha Temple.

3. On the Bahuda Yatra, the return car festival, the Lords are brought back to the main Temple.

4. Suna Besha (Golden Attire) is the event when the Deities wear golden ornaments and give darshan from the chariots to the devotees.

5. ‘Adhara Pana’ is an important event during Ratha Yatra. On this day sweet drink is offered to the invisible spirits and souls, who would have visited the celestial event of the Lords, as believed by the Hindu tradition.
 6. And finally, the Deities are taken back inside the main shrine i.e. the Jagannath Temple and installed on the Ratna Simhasan, on the last day of the Ratha Yatra activity which is called as ‘Niladri Bije’.
The “Bada Danda” or the Grand Avenue
Intresting facts About Three Chariots

The three chariots of Jagannath, Balabhadra and Subhdra 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.
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.
 
During the annual event, devotees from all over the world throng to Puri with an earnest desire to help to pull the Lords’ chariots. They consider this an auspicious act.
The huge processions accompanying the chariots play devotional songs with drums, sounding plates of bell metal, cymbals, etc.

The Ratha carts themselves are approximately 45 feet (14 m) high and are pulled by the thousands of pilgrims who turn up for the event; the chariots are built anew each year only from a particular type of tree (Neem).
 
It is also broadcast live on many Indian, foreign television channels, as well as many of the websites, telecast Jagannath Ratha Jatra live. 
The chariots under construction

 

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