At the onset of my blog itself, wishing all my Kutchhi brothers and sisters a very Happy New Year
असां जे कच्छी माडुओ के नव वर्ष की लख लख वधाई।
मेठो पांजो कच्छडो, मेठा पांजा माडु,
मेठी पांजी गालीयुं, ने मेठी पांजी प्रीत,
हलो हलो रे… आवई अषाढी बीज ।
The 2nd day of the month of Asaadh is a day celebrated as the onset of monsoons in Gujarat and Kutchh. The monsoons bring a smile on everyone’s face and people rejoice and celebrate as if it’s a new year.This day is celebrated all over India, especially Odisha, as the Rathyatra, “the procession of Chariots”. Lord Jagannath alongwith his elder brother Balbhadra and sister Devi Subhadra moves in their chariots around the Odia town of Jagannath Puri. This annual rath yatra attracts tourists from around the world. People get to touch their Lord and pull his chariot which is a one in a lifetime experience.
Jagannath Swami rides in the rath which is majorly decorated in yellow and called the “Nandi Ghosh.” Lord Balbhadra rides in “Tala dhwaj” decorated in green. And Devi Subhadra rides in her “Padma Dhwaj” black chariot. It’s the time when the siblings move out of their temples to meet the people, common folk, of their town. From their temple, they go to Gundicha temple, 3km away. Hence this yatra is also called as the Gundicha Yatra.
The names of the chariots and the colours too have their own significance. The chariots have their own charioteers. Daruka is on the Nandighosh, Matali on Taladhwaj and Arjun on Padmadwaj.
First the Deities are brought out from the temple in a very typical way. The deities do not have full body, but just a the face. So they need to be lifted and got out. This ritual is called the “Pahandi“. When one sees the deities being taken out, it seems as if they are being dragged. The multitudes of people try to catch a glimpse of the Lord and touch Him.
As soon as the Lord settles on His rath with His siblings (note that each deity has His or Her own individual rath), the erstwhile King of the Gajapati clan, arrives in a dress of a sweeper and cleans the rath and the roads with a broom in hand. This ritual is called “Chera Pahara“. It signifies that in the presence of the Lord, everyone is equal. The Kings, too through the years, have been very humble andgrateful to the Lord, to let them serve Him.
Then begins the journey.
The journey of the Lord to see His own people
The journey where the people can see their Lord
The journey of life to eternity.
The common man gets an opportunity to pull the three Raths and carry their Lord to His destination. The millions who have assembled, all, just try to touch the ropes attached to the Rath and feel grateful. The idea of a mere Human pulling the Rath of the Lord is in itself such a beautiful thought. It is He who pulls our lives throughout, but this day we get an opportunity not only to see Him, but pull his Rath as well.
Being elder, Balbhadra leads the triad. Followed by Subhadra and lastly comes Lord Jagannath himself. The idea of the brothers taking care of their sister is so divine. At the same time, it also signifies that Strength (Balbhadra) and Power (Jagannath), need to be balanced in Life. It would be possible only when one has the “bhadra” outlook (Subhadra).
Once the deities reach the Gundicha temple, they stay there for 10 days and will return back to their house after that, in the same manner as today. These 10 days are of Nagar Yatra and Darshan. The people get to see their Lords amongst themselves. The Lord too through this Yatra demonstrates that people in power need to keep their feet firmly on the ground and also keep in touch with the masses living in his or her kingdom.
The Yatra lasts for 6-7 hours and sometimes even takes 15-16 hours depending upon the wish of the deity. It is truly a very divine atmosphere in itself to be witnessed. I would request my readers to atleast visit Jagannath Puri once in a life time and if possible during the Yatra time.
A stotra written by Jagadguru Shankaracharya called Jagannathashtak is worth reciting. Quoting a shlok from it for Lord Jagannath.
रथारूढो गच्छन् पथि मिलित भूदेव पटलैः
स्तुति प्रादुर्भावम् प्रतिपदमुपाकर्ण्य सदयः ।
दया सिन्धुर्बन्धुः सकल जगतां सिन्धु सुतया
जगन्नाथः स्वामी नयन पथ गामी भवतु मे ॥५॥(“When Lord Jagannatha is on His Ratha-yatra cart and is moving along the road, at every step there is a loud presentation of prayers and songs chanted by large assemblies of brahmanas. Hearing their hymns Lord Jagannatha is very favorably disposed towards them. He is the ocean of mercy and the true friend of all the worlds. May that Jagannatha Swami, along with His consort Lakshmi, who was born from the ocean of nectar, be the object of my vision.”)
Today, in these difficult times of the Covid-19 pandemic, the Lord will come out to bless us all and the world . Wishing you all a very divine and spiritual Yatra (journey).