Puri: Pilgrims have flooded to the pilgrim city to witness the grand Rath Yatra, the annual sojourn of Holy Trinity Lord Jagannath, Lord Balabhadra and Goddess Subhadra.
With barely few hours left for the grand yatra of the Lords, the three holy chariots were pulled from the ‘Ratha Khala’ to Singhadwara (Lions’ Gate or the East Gate) today. Thousands of devotees have congregated at Puri Bada Danda (Grand Road) braving the rains.
It is believed that Rath Yatra is the grandest festival of the supreme divinity who has manifested himself in the Kali Yuga to emancipate humanity and to relieve them from their sufferings.
The three chariots of Balarama, Subhadra and Jagannatha are newly constructed every year with wood of specified trees. They are decorated as per the unique scheme prescribed and followed for centuries.
IG Central Range Soumendra Priyadarshi attributed the timely conduct of the rituals to the dedication of the Sevayats (servitors) of the ‘Holy Trinity’. “All officials, servitors, volunteers and devotees have dedicated themselves to serve the Lord. It is a divine effort and we hold it on top priority. It is all managed by the Lords themselves,” he said.
Lord Jagannatha’s Chariot is called Nandighosa. It is forty-five feet high and forty-five feet square at the wheel level. It has sixteen wheels, each of seven-foot diameter, and is decked with a cover made of red and yellow cloth. The Chariot of Lord Balarama, called the Taladhwaja, is the one with the Palm Tree on its flag. It has fourteen wheels, each of seven-foot diameter and is covered with red and blue cloth. Its height is forty-four feet. The Chariot of Subhadra, known as Dwarpadalana, literally “trampler of pride,” is forty-three feet high with twelve wheels, each of seven-foot diameter. This Chariot is decked with a covering of red and black cloth – black being traditionally associated with Shakti and the Mother Goddess.
During the Rath Yatra, Lord Balaram will be brought out of the temple, first followed by Devi Subhadra and Lord Jagannath. The ritual is titled as ‘Pahandi’, as the Lords sway from one side to another while on their way to the chariots.
Then the famous ritual ‘Chhera Pahara’ associated with Rath Yatra is performed. The Puri king – ‘Gajapati,’ or the principal servitor (Adhyasevak) sweeps the chariots with a broom having a gold handle. The custom showcases that every devotee whether a king or a common man is equal in the Lord’s eyes. When everything is ready, a whistle is blown to indicate hundreds of devotees to start pulling the chariots with ropes.
The deities visit the Gundicha temple, that is dedicated to the Lord’s aunt (located at a distance of three kilometres), in their specific chariots drawn by the pilgrims. The deities stay here for a week and are served with sweet pancakes.