Rath Yatra is an annual chariot festival of the Lord Jagannath held in Puri, Odisha. It is considered as world’s largest car festival. It is also organized in other Jagannath temples across the world. On rath yatra, Lord Jagannath, his elder brother Balabhadra and his beloved sister Subhadra visit his aunt’s place every year on three majestic chariots with a lot of pomp and show which starts from the Jagannath Temple Puri. It is celebrated on the ‘Dwitiya’ (2nd day) during the ‘Ashadha Shukla Paksha’ (the waxing phases of the moon in the Ashadha month of the Hindu calendar). Jagannath rath yatra 2021 starts on Monday, 12 July.
|Jagannath Rath Yatra 2021|
|Chandan Yatra||Saturday, 15 May|
|Snana Yatra||Thursday, 24 June|
|Netro utsav||Friday, 09 July|
(Rath Yatra starts)
|Monday, 12 July|
|Hera Panchami||Friday, 16 July|
|Bahuda Yatra||Teusday, 20 July|
|Suna Besha||Wednesday, 21 July|
|Niladri bije||Friday, 23 July|
When is Jagannath Rath Yatra 2021?
Rath Yatra day is decided based on the Hindu Lunar calendar and it is fixed on Dwitiya Tithi during Shukla Paksha of Ashada month. Currently, it falls in the months of June or July in the Gregorian calendar. Jagannath Rath Yatra falls on Monday, 12 July 2021. Initial Rituals of rath yatra start from Akshaya Tritiya; the main chariot festival starts from Sri gundicha yatra and ends on Bahuda Yatra. The last ritual of this auspicious yatra is Niladri bije.
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List of Jagannath Rath Yatra Rituals
Here is the list of important rituals of Jagannath rath yatra 2021 with date.
- Chandan Yatra falls on Akshaya Tritiya (Saturday, 15 May).
- Snana Yatra (Thursday, 24 June) – Famously known as Snana Purnima or Debasnana Purnima
- Netro Utsav & Nabajaubana Darshan (Friday, 09 July) – After the holy Snana Purnima, Lord Jagannath is said to catch cold and fever for a duration of 15 days. He is made to have homemade medicines and all the time takes rest in his cot. No devotees are allowed to visit the Lord in the Jagannath temple during these 15 days. After the completion of the 15 days when devotees are allowed to see Lord Jagannath in his favorite abode Jagannath temple Puri, it is known as Netro Utsav.
- Sri gundicha Yatra (Monday, 12 July) – Famous Car festival commences on this day. Lord Jagannath along with his siblings starts for the most pompous vacation to his aunt’s place.
- Hera Panchami (Friday, 16 July 2021) – It is celebrated at Gundicha temple on the fifth day from the start date of the Car festival.
- Sandhya Darshan (Sunday, 18 July)
- Bahuda Yatra (Teusday, 20 July) – The return of the Gods from their aunt’s place to the Puri Jagannath Temple is known as Bahuda Yatra. This happens after 9 days of Gundicha Yatra.
- Suna Besha (Wednesday, 21 July) – After they return, the chariots are kept in front of the Puri – Jagannath temple Puri while preparations are made for a royal look of the Gods. “Suna Besa” is the form Lord Jagannath takes up along with his brother and sister.
- Niladri bije (Friday, 23 July 2021) – Among all the rituals of Jagannath Rath Yatra of Puri, the most interesting one seems to be Niladri Bije.
Chandan Yatra is the longest festival observed at Jagannath temple at Puri. It is also known as Gandhalepana Yatra. Chandana Yatra meaning Sandalwood Voyage in Sanskrit, which continues for 42 days, is observed in two parts: Bahara Chandana and Bhitara Chandana. In the cultural tradition of Orissa third day of the bright fortnight of Vaisakha is very important. This day is observed as Akhyaya Tritiya. From this day the farmers start sowing seeds for the ensuing harvest. The famous Chandan yatra of Lord Jagannath starts from this day.
Chandan Yatra date – Saturday, 15 May 2021
Bahara Chandana Yatra
Decorated boat of the deities in Narendra tirtha Bahara Chandana starts from Akshaya Tritiya and continues for 21 days. Construction of the chariots for the annual Ratha Yatra festival starts from Akshaya Tritiya. On the first 21 days the representative idols of the main deities of the Jagannath temple as well as five Shivalingas known as the Pancha Pandava are taken in a procession from the Singhadwara or the Lion Gate of the Jagannatha temple at Puri to the Narendra Tirtha tank. The deities Madanamohana, Bhudevi, Sridevi, and Ramakrishna participate in this yatra for 21 days. The deities are taken on two chapas (boats), namely, Nanda and Bhadra, on an excursion around the Narendra Tritha. After various rituals, the deities are taken to the Narendra pond located near the Jagannath Temple and they are placed on grandly decorated boats for an evening cruise of the tank.
Bhitara Chandana Yatra
The last 21 days include rituals held inside the temple itself. Instead of the daily cruises, the playful ride happens here on four occasions, the Amavasya, the full moon night, on the Shashti and the Ekadashi of the bright fort night.
Snana Yatra or Deba-snana Purnima is a bathing festival celebrated on the Purnima (full moon day) of the Hindu month of Jyeshtha on occasion of Jagannath Rath Yatra. It is also famous as Snana Purnima. It is the birth day of lord Jagannath.This is the first occasion in the year as per the Hindu calendar, when the deities Jagannath, Balabhadra, Subhadra, Sudarshan, and Madanmohan are brought out from the Jagannath Temple (Puri) and taken in a procession to the Snana Bedi. There they are ceremonially bathed and decorated for a public audience with the devotees.
The epic journey of Lord Jagannath, Balabhadra and Subhadra to their chariots(Rath), starts with an elaborate royal ritual called Pahandi – literally, going forward in a step by step movement to the accompaniment of several devotees beating the ghanta, kahali and telingi baja.
The two brothers, Balabhadra and Jagannatha are decorated with large, elaborate floral decorations called tahia. These are like huge crowns or tiara but are fixed at the back of their heads. These are made of a variety of white, orange and lotus flowers, leaves and pieces of cork fixed to a semi-circular heart-shaped bamboo frame. The two brothers decorated with the tahias are carried forward in a slow, swaying movement, giving the illusion of a huge elephant gracefully and gently stepping out. Hundreds and thousands of devotees eagerly await a glimpse of the deities. As the deities step out of the main entrance of the temple, the Sinhadwara – Lion’s Gate, the teeming devotees, bhaktas go wild with ecstasy, chanting the name of the Lord in a loud chorus.
First comes Sudarshana who takes its place on the chariot of Subhadra. He is followed by Lord Balabhadra. Much smaller, Subhadra, the yellow-golden colored younger sister of Jagannatha and Balabhadra, follows soon after. Short and slim, in contrast to her two brothers and much lighter, the lady is carried on the shoulders in a supine state. Her movement is much faster and the daitas carrying her almost rush through the process in a running movement. At last comes Lord Jagannatha, darling of the devotees, in a regal procession. Dancers perform traditional Odissi dance to the accompaniment of mardala and mridanga, traditional Orissan percussion instruments, as the procession moves forward. Devotees also perform sankirtan, ritual group chanting of the names of Lords with rhythmic jumping movements.
The second phase of the festival is an equally colorful and elaborate ritual is known as Chhera Pahanra. The Raja, King of Puri, Gajapati Divya Singha Deva is informed of the deities having taken their places on the chariots through a messenger specially deputed by the temple officials. The young, handsome King, clad in spotless white, carried in a silver plated palanquin leaves his palace and comes in a small procession on the grand avenue led by a caparisoned elephant. He climbs the chariots one by one. Then, he first offers his prayers to the deity seated on the chariot. He then cleans the platforms with a golden broom, sprinkling flowers, and fragrant water on the surface of the chariot.
Hera Panchami is a ritual of Goddess Lakshmi. ‘Hera’ means to ‘see’ and ‘Panchami’ means the ‘fifth day’. It is celebrated at Gundicha temple on the fifth day from the start date of the Car festival.
At night of the 5th day the representative idol of Goddess Mahalaxmi (known as Subarna Mahalaxmi) is made to leave for the Gundicha temple in a beautifully decorated palanquin via Bada Danda (the Grand Road) in a colorful procession in pomp and splendor, accompanied by her servitors, to meet Lord Jagannath and to ask Him why he had not returned yet. The people & servitors who are part of the procession of Goddess Mahalaxmi sing the Hera Panchami song. The Hera Panchami song expresses Goddess Mahalaxmi’s anger towards Her husband. After knowing that Goddess Mahalaxmi is coming to meet him with anger, Lord Jagannath asks his servitors to quickly lock the door of Gundicha Temple. After having a stealthy look at her Lord, she returns to the temple, damaging a part of Jagannath’s chariot in anger and disgust. This is what the crowd witnesses with profuse excitement.
Know more about Hera Panchami
In total, there are 32 Bashas (forms) which Lord Jagannath, Balabhadra, and Subhadra. Suna Besa is one of the most looked upon by the Devotees as it is done in the great chariots. It is done on Ashadha Shukla Ekadashi Tithi (i.e. the 11th bright fortnight in Asadha). This is also known as Bada Tadhau Besha. In this, the Gods and Goddess are adorned with beautifully carved Gold jewelry.
Suna Besha, also known as Raja or Rajadhiraja besha or Raja Besha or Rajarajeshwara Besha, is an event when the Lord Jagannath and other deities Balabhadra, and Goddess Subhadra are adorned with gold jewelry. It is observed 5 times during a year. It is commonly observed on Magha Purnima (January), Bahuda Ekadashi also known as Asadha Ekadashi (July), Dashahara (Vijyadashami) (October), Karthik Purnima (November), and Pousa Purnima (December). The name Suna Bhesha is derived from two words, ‘Suna’ meaning “gold” and ‘Bhesha’ meaning “costume”.
While one such Suna Bhesha event is observed on Bahuda Ekadashi during the Rath Yatra on the chariots placed at the lion’s gate (also called Singhadwara). The other four Beshas’ are observed inside the temple on the Ratna Singhasana (gem studded altar). On this occasion gold plates are decorated over the hands and feet of Jagannath and Balabhadra; Jagannath is also adorned with a Chakra (disc) made of gold on the right hand while a silver conch adorns the left hand. However, Balabhadra is decorated with a plough made of gold on the left hand while a golden mace adorns his right hand.
Know more about Suna Besha
Among all the rituals of Jagannath Rath Yatra of Puri, the most interesting one seems to be Niladri Bije. ‘Niladri’ suggests Lord Jagannath and ‘Bije’ means to enter. This is really interesting as it is all about the continuation of the fight between Lord Jagannath and Goddess Laxmi. Before entering the temple, the Trinity would be offered ‘Rasagola’ bhog on the chariots. With Niladri Bije (homecoming of the deities), the annual Rath Yatra of the deities will come to an end and the deities will give darshan to the devotees in the main temple.
Know more about Niladri Bije
The Rath Yatra at Puri is a significant event in the entire state that is witnessed by numerous tourists both foreigners and devotees. During the Rath Yatra, Puri is colored in the most vivid hues of sheer joy & enjoyment and is flocked with devotees who wish to pay their honor to the deities and seek their blessings.