Jagannath Rathayatra (Chariot Journey) is a world famous Indian festival. The word Jagannath means Lord(Natha) of the Universe (Jaga). Lord Jagannath was an incarnation of Lord Krishna.

Ulta–Rath Yatra (Reverse Chariot Journey) is the conclusion of the Puri Rathyatra festival. It is the festival of chariots from Lord Jagannatha, Balbhadra and Subhadra.

The festival date is determined according to Hindu Lunar calendar in Dwitya Tithi during Shukla Paksha of Ashada (June/July) in Puri, Odisha state, India. Here are some photographs captured from the festival this year.

Ulta-Rath Yatra is celebrated every year on a ninth day after Puri Jagannath Rath Yatra. As part of Ratha Yatra, the deities of Jagannath, his elder brother Balbhadra and younger sister Subhadra are taken out in a procession to the Gundicha Temple (Mausima Temple) and remain there for eight days. After staying for eight days in Gundicha temple, chariots begin to move to the main temple of Puri on Ulta Rath Yatra day.

On the Rathyatra day, three richly decorated chariots are pulled through the streets of Puri from Jagannath Temple to Gundicha Temple, this is called ‘Badadanda’.

Then, on the Ulta Rath Yatra day when they come back to the Jagannath Temple, the return journey is called ‘ Bahuda Jatra ‘. During, Ulta Rath deities were given a sweet recipe called ‘Podha Pitha ‘. You can see those sweets in the pictures.

Actually, the presiding deity of Gundicha Temple is the aunt of Lord Jagannath. This temple is located at a distance of 3km from the Jagannath temple.

During this festival, devotees from all over the world come to Puri with a heartfelt desire to help to pull the three chariots with ropes. In this way, these three monks (see pictures) came from far away Nashik to see their Lord Jagannath. According to the legend, Lord Jagannatha himself loved taking part to the festival when he used to visit his aunt with his elder brother and sister. Still today, the huge processions accompanying the chariots play devotional songs with drums, tambourines, trumpets, etc.

In addition, common people dressed as Hindu mythological characters. Therefore, in one of the pictures, you can see one man in the costume of Lord Hanuman. Millions of devotees from all over the country and abroad congregate at Puri for this annual event. When all these devotees shout together the name of ‘Jay Jagannath’, it gives a sensation of waves rising in the sea.

The three chariots are decorated according to one unique prescribed scheme which has been followed for centuries.

  • The chariot of Lord Jagannath is named Nandighosha and it is 45 feet high. This chariot has 16 wheels and is decked with a cover made of red and yellow clothes.
  • The chariot of Lord Balarama, also called the Taladhwaja, is 44 feet high. It has 14 wheels and is decked with a cover made of red and green clothes.
  • The chariot of Goddess Subhadra is known as Dwarpadalana and is 43 feet high. This chariot has 12 wheels and is decked with a cover made of red and black clothes.

Chariots are built every year and are made with a wood coming from specific trees like neem (Azadirachta indica), plum etc.

Ulta Rath Jatra is one of the most-awaited festivals in the Orissa state as well as in India and it has been going on for ages.


Edited By Jeevan Thapa

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