Rath Yatra 2024

Rath Yatra, also known as the Chariot Festival, is one of the most celebrated and revered festivals in India. Its origins are deeply rooted in Hindu mythology, and its celebration signifies various spiritual and cultural beliefs. This festival, marked by the procession of deities in ornately decorated chariots, holds immense religious significance for millions of devotees. Here, we delve into the reasons why Rath Yatra is celebrated and its profound significance in Hindu culture.

Rath Yatra 2024

Date of Rath Yatra 2024

This festival is celebrated for nine days, during which Lord Jagannath, his brother Balabhadra, and sister Subhadra visit the Gundicha Temple, which is believed to be the abode of his aunt. In 2024, this festival will start on 7th July (Sunday). On 15th July (Monday), Lord Jagannath will come back to the main temple along with his brother and sister.

Why Rath Yatra is celebrated

The primary reason for celebrating Rath Yatra lies in its connection to Hindu mythology, particularly the stories surrounding Lord Jagannath, a form of Lord Vishnu. According to the legends:

  1. Lord Jagannath’s Annual Visit to Gundicha Temple:
    • The most prominent Rath Yatra is the Jagannath Rath Yatra in Puri, Odisha. This festival commemorates Lord Jagannath’s annual journey from his temple to the Gundicha Temple, which is believed to be the abode of his aunt. This journey symbolizes the deity’s willingness to visit his devotees and bless them.
  2. The Reenactment of Krishna’s Travel:
    • Some legends associate Rath Yatra with Lord Krishna’s travel from Gokul to Mathura. The chariot procession is believed to reenact this significant journey, symbolizing the victory of good over evil and the deity’s omnipresence.
  3. Brotherhood and Unity:
    • The deities involved in Rath Yatra, Lord Jagannath, his brother Balabhadra, and sister Subhadra, are seen as embodiments of unity and brotherhood. The procession symbolizes the harmonious relationship between siblings and the inclusive nature of divinity.

Rituals and Ceremonies

rath yatra 2024

Rath Yatra involves a series of rituals and ceremonies, each adding to the spiritual significance of the festival:

  1. Snana Purnima: The festival begins with Snana Purnima, where the deities are bathed with 108 pitchers of water. This ritual is believed to purify the deities and prepare them for the journey.
  2. Anavasara: After the Snana Purnima, the deities fall ill and rest for a period known as Anavasara. During this time, the temple remains closed to the public, and special prayers are offered for their recovery.
  3. Netrotsava: On the day before Rath Yatra, the deities are given a special eye treatment, known as Netrotsava. This ritual symbolizes their recovery and readiness for the journey.
  4. Pahandi Bije: The most awaited moment arrives with Pahandi Bije, the grand procession in which the deities are brought out of the temple to the chariots. Devotees eagerly await this moment to catch a glimpse of the deities and participate in the rituals.
  5. Chariot Pulling: The highlight of Rath Yatra is the pulling of the chariots by thousands of devotees. It is believed that pulling the chariots washes away sins and brings blessings. The chariots are pulled from the Jagannath Temple to the Gundicha Temple, a distance of about 3 kilometers.
  6. Hera Panchami: A unique ritual observed during Rath Yatra is Hera Panchami. This ceremony takes place on the fifth day of the festival, symbolizing the playful and loving relationship between Lord Jagannath and Goddess Lakshmi.
  7. Return Journey (Ulta Rath): After a stay of nine days at the Gundicha Temple, the deities return to the Jagannath Temple. This return journey is known as Bahuda Yatra or Ulta Rath and is celebrated with equal fervor and enthusiasm.

Celebrations Across India

While Puri is the epicentre of Rath Yatra, the festival is celebrated with great enthusiasm in various parts of India and even abroad. Here are some notable celebrations:

  • Dussehra Rath Yatra, Kullu
  • Mahesh Rath Yatra, West Bengal
  • Rath Yatra, Ahmedabad
  • Rath Yatra, Baripada
  • Rath Yatra of ISKCON, Bangalore, Kolkata, Manipur
  • Mayapur Rath Yatra
  • Udupi rath Yatra

Read more : Top 10 Rath Yatra in India

Conclusion

Rath Yatra 2024 is set to be a spectacular event, bringing together millions of devotees in a grand celebration of faith and culture. The festival, with its rich traditions and vibrant rituals, offers a unique glimpse into the spiritual and cultural heritage of India. Whether you participate in person or join virtually, Rath Yatra is an experience that leaves a lasting impression, filling hearts with joy, devotion, and a sense of unity.

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