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  • Writer's pictureBGSM

Rath Yatra, The Car Festival of Odisha

Updated: Oct 14, 2022

Braj Gopika Seva Mission rejuvenates Odisha by spreading happiness with devotional vibes.

Lord Jagannath possesses a significant place in the heart of devotees, not constrained to Odisha only, but across pan-Indian consciousness and overseas nations as well. Rath Yatra or Car festival is thus celebrated everywhere around the world as a symbol of cultural ethos, harbinger of bonhomie among people around the globe, cutting across the myriad barriers of cast, class, region or ethnicity; sustaining and strengthening the spirits of divinity, absolute peace and harmony.

Precedent to this world-famous Rath Yatra or Car festival, the devotional rituals of deities trio: Lord Jagannath, lord Balbhadra and Devi Subhadra get started a month ago, from the auspicious occasion of Akshaya Tritiya. After the Royal bath of 108 pots of fragranced water with, a blend of numerous herbal ingredients such as sandal wood paste, turmeric, rose water etc. on the occasion of Snan Poornima, these three deities: Lord Jagannath, lord Balbhadra, and Devi Subhadra fall sick and then they are taken to ‘Ansar house’ for a fortnight for recuperation.

This year, Snan Poornima or the Royal bath celebrated at Braj Gopika Dham, at Tutumbar -palli as held every year in presence of a huge gathering, including Ashram inmates, sansangees/followers, village people from nearby locations and ashram visitors. As per the ritual, the deities were then, taken to Ansar house (Jagadguru Bhawan premises) where they stayed for a fortnight to convalesce from the sickness. The daily ritual was performed secretly by the pandas or servitors with the requisite medicinal herbs , Bhog , free from abstinence and other essentialities for their speedy recovery before the Rath Yatra. During the period of stay at Ansar house, the deities are treated as the patients, suffering with body ache with fever, exactly happens in the case of humans.

On the 16th day, deities trio return to their temple at Sri Mandir from the Ansar house at Jagannath Dham, Puri. The same ritual followed here at Braj Gopika Dham; the deities were taken out of the Ansar House (Jagadguru Bhawan) to the Upasana Hall (where the deities stay) on a huge procession with the chants of slokas, kirtans and dance performance by the inmates, satsangees and the visitors. On the same day, Lord Jagannath, Balbhadra and Subhadra appeared before the devotees in their ‘Nav Yovan’ or new- regained- youth form after sickness. The trio decked up with new attire, with the adornment of beautiful silver and gold ornaments. The devotees felt overwhelmed after the darshan of deities with such rare attire, which takes place, once in a year. This occasion is also known as ‘Netrotsava’.