Odisha’s Puri is well-known for the Rath Yatra festival of Lord Jagannath. The yatra is taken out every year on Ashadhi Bij, the second day of Ashad month, as per the Hindu calendar. The annual Puri Jagannath Rath Yatra marks the journey of the three deities — Lord Jagannath, Lord Balabhadra and Devi Subhadra — to the temple of their ‘aunt’, Devi Gundicha. The occasion is also called the “chariot festival”.The festival ends with the Bahuda yatra, which is when the three deities of the temple return from their ‘aunt’s’ abode. The chariots of Jagannath, Balabhadra, and Subhadra are named Nandighosh, Taladhwaja, and Padmadhwaja respectively.
This year, the Jagannath Rath Yatra Puri is supposed to take place on June 23, 2020. However, a stay order has been issued by the Supreme Court of India on all festivities and activities due to the ongoing coronavirus pandemic. From curfew timing to the number of people who can pull the chariot, from social distancing norms to record-keeping of those who will participate in the annual religious ritual this year, the court has laid some rules and regulations to be followed amid the festival.
Puri Jagannath Rath Yatra Significance:
Lord Jagannath is considered as one of the reincarnation avatars of Lord Vishnu. The word Jagannath is made of two words- Jaga meaning universe and Nath meaning Lord; it means Lord of the Universe. The Rath Yatra is celebrated annually where Lord Jagannath along with Lord Balaram and Goddess Subhadra are taken on a yatra from the Jagannath temple in Puri to their aunt’s home at Gundicha Mata Temple. While the idols are taken out on a Rath, their three chariots are pulled by devotees through the streets of Puri.
Devotees believe that pulling the chariots of their God during the procession is a way of engaging in the Lord’s pure devotion and it destroys their sins which might be committed either knowingly or unknowingly.