In Jagannath Rath Yatra, we all crave for beautiful and huge cars. But, none of us can compete with Lord Jagannath in this case. He and his brother and sister are lucky enough to have a new car every year which is as high as the sky. He proudly comes out of the Temple ones a year and travels to his aunt’s home. Many skilled workers, architects, and engineers flock together to produce these three magnificent chariots known as the Ratha’s.
Each year in Jagannath Temple Puri, three enormous chariots are built anew for Lord Jagannatha, Balarama and Subhadra. Over 1,000 logs are brought from the Dasapalla and Ranpur forests, and more than 100 carpenters work for two months constructing the three chariots. A local mill provides nearly 2,000 meters of cloth each year, and the chariots are radiantly draped in color. Very strong coconut fiber ropes, 8 inches in diameter, are used by the devotees to pull the chariots along the parade route. The nails, brackets and fixtures are all made locally, and the smiths work for a month on them. The ratha’s main structure (above the wheels) contains eighteen pillars and roofs. Each chariot holds nine parswadevatas (subsidiary deities), two dwarapalas (doorkeepers), one Sarathi (charioteer) and one presiding deity of the crest banner (dhwaja devata), and all are made of wood. The most interesting part of these chariots is that each of them has certain specific characteristics. Let’s have a look at the three different chariots and their details!
Lord Jagannath’s Chariot: Nandighosha
You can identify the Chariot of Lord Jagannath by its color. The chariot of Jagannath has a yellow and red color canopy and it is also the largest of the chariots. The Chariot has 4 horses and the color of the horses is White. The height of the Chariot is 45 feet and it has 16 wheels. It also prominently displays the Sudarshana Chakra emblem. The guardian deity of the chariot is Garuda and the charioteer is known as Daruka. The flag on the chariot is known as Trailokyamohini. The rope that is used to pull the Chariot is known as Shankahchuda. Along with Jagannath, the chariot also has the idols of Varaha, Govardhana, Krushna, Nrusimgha, Rama, Narayana, Trivikrama, Hanuman, and Rudra. The face of the Chariot is known as Nandi Mukha and the weapons are Sankha & Chakra.
Lord Balabhadra’s Chariot: Taladhwaja
You can identify the Chariot of Lord Balabhadra by its color. The chariot of Balabhadra has a green and red color canopy and it is the second largest of the chariots. The Chariot has 4 horses and the color of the horses is Black. The height of the Chariot is 44 feet and it has 14 wheels. The guardian deity of the chariot is Vasudev and the charioteer is known as Matali. Gate Keepers of the Chariot are Nanda & Sunanda. The flag on the chariot is known as Unnani. The rope that is used to pull the Chariot is known as Basuki. Along with Balabhadra, the chariot also has the idols of Ganesha, Kartikeya, Sarvamangala, Pralambari, Halayudha, Mrutyunjaya, Natamvara, Mukteshwar & Sheshadeva. The face of the Chariot is known as Ketu Bhadra and the weapons are Hala & Musala.
Goddess Subhadra’s Chariot: Padmadhwaja/ Devadalana
You can identify the Chariot of Goddess Subhadra by its color. The chariot of Subhadra has a black and red color canopy and it is also the smallest of the chariots. The Chariot has 4 horses and the color of the horses is red. The height of the Chariot is 43 feet and it has 12 wheels. The guardian deity of the chariot is Jayadurga and the charioteer is known as Arjuna. The flag on the chariot is known as Nadambika. The rope that is used to pull the Chariot is known as Swarnachuda. Along with Subhadra, the chariot also has the idols of Chandi, Chamunda, Ugratara, Vanadurga, Shulidurga, Varahi, Shyama Kali, Mangala and Bimala. The face of the Chariot is known as Bhakti Sumedha and the weapons are Padma & Kalhar.
Significance Of Ratha (chariot)
Ratha was an ancient vehicle made of special metals and elements which were much scientifically advanced than we are today. Every God used to have a Ratha which could travel the land, air, and water as well. What message does this magical chariot give us?
The wheels of the chariot are said to be the wheels of life, the road ‘Bada danda’ is the road to Nirvana (free from the austerities of life), and the ratha is where we stand. God – from his annual journey wants to tell us to always have Nirvana as the only aim in life and proceed accordingly. If any of the wheels break then the journey in life will get difficult.
Significance Of Rath Yatra
The Ratha Yatra is a mass movement for enlightening people about life. To take part in these festivals is a step forward towards self-realization. To support this, Srila Prabhupada quotes a verse, “rathe ca vamanam drstva punar janma na vidyate – simply by seeing the Lord on the chariot, one makes advancement for stopping the repetition of birth and death.”
Srila Prabhupada, in a lecture on a Ratha Yatra day in San Francisco, minutely described the significance of the names – Jagannatha, Balarama and Subhadra. He explains that jagat means the moving world; gacchati iti jagat – gacchati means that which is moving. Everything in this world – planets, sun, even this universe is moving. Not only animate things like the living entities, but also inanimate things like a machine are moving under the control of some animate object. Some of the animate objects like trees are standstill but ultimately they are also moving in this sense that one species of life is being transmigrated to another species of life. Therefore it is called jagat which means moving. And jagat-natha; natha means the proprietor or the master. So Jagannatha means the proprietor or the master of all these movements. And Balabhadra or Balarama – bala means strength and rama means enjoyment. So Balarama is the one who gives you spiritual strength for enjoying eternal blissful life. And Subhadra – su means auspicious and bhadra means well-being. Having explained the meaning, Srila Prabhupada said that Subhadra, Jagannatha and Balarama combined together were present there to reclaim all the devotees from their miserable condition of life. By Isckon
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