Rath Yatra -The Chariot Festival of Lord Jagannath

Rath Yatra is one of the most sacred and important festivals of traditional Hinduism which is observed around the idols of Jagannath, Balarama and Subhadra installed on the moving chariot. This festival is celebrated every year with great pomp and show on the Shukla Paksha Dwitiya Tithi in the month of Aashadha.

Rath Yatra, the week-long festival, is now celebrated in many parts of the world through formalities like puja, kirtan, parikrama etc. However, the most magnificent Rath Yatra festival is organized at the temple of Lord Jagannath in Puri. In Bangladesh, the country’s largest Rath Yatra is organized at a place called Dhamrai in Dhaka. There are many stories about the origin of the Rath Yatra festival. Below is a description of some of the most accepted stories from the distant past to the present.

Long ago, a king named Indradyumna ruled the state of Utkal (present-day Orissa) in India. For a long time he had been thinking of establishing a temple in his mind but there was a conflict in his mind about the idol of the temple. At this time he had a dream of Krishna named Nilmadhab in the cave of Nilachal hill. Many places in India were forested at that time. No one knew about Nilachal hill then. After dreaming, he used to send people around in search of Nilachal. Finally, a faithful young man of the king named Vidyapati found Nilachal and visited the idol of Nilmadhab. But sadly Nilmadhab then disappeared. The king continued to repent to God with a heavy heart and to pray in unison. In the end, the Most Merciful became kind to him. King Indradyumna dreamed that a piece of wood would float on the sea shore. The wooden idol should be made by collecting that piece of wood and that idol should be installed in the temple. It is believed that Bishwakarma, the architect of heaven, took the sacred responsibility of making that idol. The condition was that no one could interrupt his work until the work of making the idol was completed. If anyone did that, he would leave the work unfinished. Ten days later, King Indradyumna’s wife became impatient and opened the door of Vishwakarma’s closed room. As a result of breaking the condition, Vishwakarma went away leaving an incomplete idol. Then the incomplete triad idol (Jagannath-Balaram-Subhadra) made by Vishwakarma was placed in the temple.

Like every year, this year too, the Holy Rath Yatra festival is going to be celebrated on 1st July in various ceremonies in different parts of the world. We wish everyone a happy Rath Yatra.

By Krishna Das


Krishna Das is an experienced article writer. He writes about Hinduism in his spare time.

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