Jagannath Puri in Odisha is the abode of Lord Jagannath (the Lord of the Universe) and is also known as Purushottama Kshetra. It is one of the four holy kshetras of India. Here, the Supreme Lordis worshipped with His elder brother Balarama and His sister Subhadra. The ratha yatra of Lord Jagannath, held every year on the second day of the bright fortnight of ashadha (June - July), attracts lakhs of devotees and pilgrims from all over the world. It is said: rathe ca vamanam drstva punar janma na vidyate: One who sees the Lord on the chariot on the Ratha Yatra day can attain salvation from the cycle of birth and death.
The preparations for the Ratha Yatra starts from the auspicious day of Akshaya Tritiya (the third day of the bright fortnight in the month of Vaishaka). On this day the construction of the chariot jagannatha puri ratha yatrabegins. Three different sizes of chariots are made every year. The chariot of Lord Jagannath is called Nandighosh. It is 45 ft high and has 16 wheels. It is covered with cloth of red and yellow colors. The insignia of Sudarshana Chakra is placed on top of it. The chariot of Balabhadra is called Taladhvaja, the chariot of Mother Subhadra is called Padmadhvaja (also known as Darpadalana). Taladhvaja, covered with cloth of red and green colors is 44 ft high and consists of 14 wheels. The 43 ft Padmadhvaja having 12 wheels is covered with red and black cloths.
The Journey to Gundicha Temple
Lord Jagannath travels from His Sri Mandira (temple in Jagannath Puri or Niladri), to His garden temple, Gundicha, located in Sundarachala. This temple is situated two miles north-east of the Jagannatha Temple. The residents of Odisha, hence, refer to this festival as Gundicha Yatra. Krishna went to jagannatha puri ratha yatra journey to gundicha templeMathura and from there to Dvaraka. The gopis of Vrindavana were feeling separation from Krishna. They did not go with him because they did not like the opulence of Dvaraka. They wanted to enjoy with Krishna as Shyamasundara in the groves of Vrindavana. Once the gopis of Vrindavana headed by Radharani met Krishna at Kurukshetra during the solar eclipse. They wanted to take Krishna back to Vrindavana. They pulled the chariot of Krishna, Balarama and Subhadra and walked towards Vrindavana. Ratha Yatra symbolises this mood of devotees and the Gundicha temple symbolises Vrindavana. Thousands of devotees pull the grand chariots accompanied by the sounding of conches, trumpets, drums and cymbals. Musicians and Dancers perform for the pleasure of the Lord in front of the chariots.
Snana-Yatra, the bathing ceremony of Lord Jagannatha takes place a fortnight before, on Jyeshtha Purnima (the full moon day in the month of Jyeshtha). The deities of Jagannatha, Baladeva, jagannatha puri snana yatra purnimaSubhadra, Sudarshana and Madana-mohana (the utsava vigraha) are brought to the snana-vedi and ceremonially bathed with 108 pots of sanctified water drawn from the well situated in the northern side of the temple. After the bathing ceremony, Lord Jagannatha apparently becomes sick and moves into His private apartment. For a period of fifteen days no one can see Him. This is called anavasara. The renovations are made on the body of the Jagannatha Deity at this time. This is called nava-yauvana (to indicate that the Deity of Jagannatha is being restored to youth again). Once again the Lord gives darshana to the public on the day of Ratha-yatra ceremony.
A dramatic account of Sri Chaitanya Mahaprabhu’s miraculous activities at the Ratha Yatra is presented in (washing and cleaning of Gundicha Temple) and He personally cleansed the Gundicha temple along with His associates. The Lord cleaned everything inside the temple, including the ceiling; and then they cleaned all the other temple buildings including the kirtana hall. They were all chanting the holy name of Lord Krishna all the time. They also cleaned the bhoga-mandira and all the residential quarters, one after another. The Lord then ordered the devotees to cleanse the inside of the temple for the second time by removing finer dust, straws and grains of sand. Hundreds of pots of water was thrown on the floor and ceiling to wash the temple. Even the roads were cleansed. The devotees performed grand sankirtana and Chaitanaya Mahaprabhu danced in ecstasy. Then the devotees took rest and went to take a bath. Sri Chaitanaya Mahaprabhu distributed prasadam to all the devotees who participated in the gundicha-mandira-marjana-seva. Even today this tradition is followed and devotees clean the Gundicha temple as a prepartion for Ratha Yatra.
the Madhya Lila section of Sri Chaitanya Charitamrita, a biographical account of Chaitanya Mahaprabhu written by Krishnadasa Kaviraja Gosvami. After accepting sannyasa, Sri Chaitanya Mahaprabhu stayed in Jagannath Puri, making it his headquarters. During anavasara, being unable to see Lord Jagannatha, Chaitanya Mahaprabhu could not tolerate the separation and went to the temple of Alalanatha in Brahmagiri. Later he gundicha marjana chaitanya maha prabhureturned when the devotees of Bengal came to meet him. He organized Gundicha-marjana
The Journey Begins
Lord Jagannatha left His Sri Mandira with His brother and sister. On the fith day, Goddess Lakshmi starts (the garland of consent). To vent out her anger, Lakshmi devi orders her attendants to break the Nandighosha ratha. This ceremony is known as Ratha-bhanga. However due to fear of the repercussions of her angry act, she hides behind a tamarind tree outside Gundicha temple and secretly escapes through another lane to her home temple at Sri Mandira.
worrying about her husband. She personally goes to Gundicha Mandir to call her husband back home to the Sri Mandira. The Lord agrees to return soon and gives her agyan mala
Ekadashi and the Lord is offered a special drink known as Adhara Pana. On that evening, all the three Deities are adorned in Sunar vesha and lakhs of pilgrims throng around the ratha to get the glimpse of the Sunar Vesha Darshana of the Lord. The next day the Lord goes back to the Sri Mandira (his temple in Niladri)
Please See Also: