Jagannath Rath Yatra 2023: Date, History, Significance, Celebrations and Food Offerings•
Posted on May 08 2023
Jagannath Rath Yatra, also known as the Chariot Festival, is a Hindu festival celebrated every year in the city of Puri, located in the state of Odisha, India. The festival is a grand celebration that involves the procession of Lord Jagannath, his brother Balabhadra, and sister Subhadra in massive chariots, pulled by devotees through the streets of Puri. The festival attracts thousands of devotees from all over India and is a significant event in the Hindu calendar.
When will Jagannath Rath Yatra commence in 2023?
The Jagannath Rath Yatra is an annual nine day long Hindu chariot festival celebrated on the bright half of the lunar month of Ashadh (June-July).
This year, it will start on Tuesday, June 20, 2023.
History and Origin
The Jagannath Rath Yatra has a rich history that dates back to ancient times. According to Hindu folklore, Lord Jagannath is an incarnation of Lord Vishnu, and the festival marks his annual visit to his aunt's house, located in Gundicha Temple, a few kilometres away from his temple in Puri. The festival is also associated with the story of King Indradyumna, who built the temple of Lord Jagannath in Puri.
The festival is believed to have started during the 12th century when the Ganga dynasty ruled over Odisha. It is said that the king of Puri, Maharaja Anantavarman Chodaganga Deva, initiated the festival to allow the common people to have darshan of Lord Jagannath, who was worshipped only by the royal family and high priests until then.
Preparations for the Festival
The preparations for the Jagannath Rath Yatra start months in advance. The chariots are built every year and are made of wood and brightly painted with various designs and motifs. The chariots of Lord Jagannath, Balabhadra, and Subhadra are called Nandighosa, Taladhwaja, and Devadalana, respectively. The chariots are decorated with flowers, fabrics, and other ornaments and are pulled by thousands of devotees who come from all over India.
The festival attracts thousands of devotees from all over India who come to Puri to participate in the celebrations. The government and the temple administration make elaborate arrangements to ensure the smooth conduct of the festival. Security measures are put in place to ensure the safety of the devotees, and medical facilities are also provided.
Celebrations of the Festival
The Jagannath Rath Yatra is a grand celebration that lasts for nine days. The festival begins with the Snana Yatra, a ritual bath of the deities, which takes place a few days before the Rath Yatra. The deities are then kept in isolation for several days and are given a new appearance during the Nabajoubana Darshan. The deities are then taken in a procession to the chariots, which are parked outside the temple.
On the day of the Rath Yatra, the chariots are pulled by thousands of devotees through the streets of Puri. The devotees sing bhajans and chant the name of Lord Jagannath as they pull the chariots. The procession passes through the main streets of Puri, and the devotees offer flowers, fruits, and other offerings to the deities. The festival is a symbol of communal harmony, as people from all walks of life and religions come together to participate in the celebrations.
The procession ends at the Gundicha Temple, where the deities stay for a few days before returning to the Jagannath temple in Puri. The return journey is known as the Bahuda Yatra and is also celebrated with great enthusiasm. The chariots are dismantled after the festival, and the wood is used for various purposes.
Significance of the Festival
The Jagannath Rath Yatra is a significant festival in the Hindu calendar and is celebrated with great enthusiasm across India. The festival is a symbol of the unity and harmony of the people and is celebrated with great devotion and faith. It is believed that those who participate in the Rath Yatra and offer their services to Lord Jagannath are blessed with peace, prosperity, and happiness.
In addition to its religious significance, the Jagannath Rath Yatra also has historical and cultural significance. The festival has been celebrated for over a thousand years and has played an important role in the development of Odisha's cultural and religious identity.
Food Offerings During Jagannath Rath Yatra
Jagannath Rath Yatra is a grand celebration that is steeped in history, culture, and religious significance. The festival is a symbol of communal harmony, and people from all walks of life and religions come together to participate in the celebrations. The festival is an important event in the Hindu calendar and is celebrated with great enthusiasm across India. During the festival, devotees prepare a variety of special foods that are offered as bhog or prasad to Lord Jagannath, Balabhadra, and Subhadra. These offerings are considered sacred and are believed to bring blessings and good fortune to those who partake in them. Here are some of the special foods eaten on Jagannath Rath Yatra:
- Poda Pitha: It is a sweet cake made of rice flour, jaggery, and coconut that is steamed and then baked. The cake is offered as bhog to Lord Jagannath and is considered one of his favourite foods.
Khaja: Khaja is a crispy and flaky dessert made of maida (refined flour), ghee, and sugar syrup. It is a popular sweet that is offered to Lord Jagannath during the Rath Yatra.
Chhena Poda: Chhena Poda is a famous sweet from Odisha made of chhena (cottage cheese), sugar, and cardamom. It is baked in an earthen pot and has a caramelised texture and a unique flavour. It is offered to Lord Jagannath during the Rath Yatra.
Kheer: Kheer is a rice pudding that is made with milk, rice, sugar, and cardamom. It is a popular dessert in India and is often offered as bhog during festivals.
Pakhal Bhaat: Pakhal Bhaat is a traditional dish from Odisha made of rice and water. It is soaked overnight and served with salt, green chilli, and roasted vegetables. It is a refreshing dish that is often eaten during the hot summer months and is offered to Lord Jagannath during the Rath Yatra.
- Besara: Besara is a popular dish from Odisha made with mustard seeds, poppy seeds, and other spices. It is a spicy curry that is often made with fish, prawns, or vegetables and is offered as bhog during the Rath Yatra.
In addition to these special foods, devotees also prepare a variety of vegetarian dishes that are offered to Lord Jagannath during the Rath Yatra. The offerings are made with great devotion and are believed to be blessed by the deity. After the offerings are made, the food is distributed among the devotees as prasad, and they are considered to be blessed by Lord Jagannath.