Saturday, 27 April 2019

Essay on Rath Yatra Festival

Essay on Rath Yatra Festival

India is a country of festivals. Festivals bring a large number of people together in a spirit of joy or devotion. However, the festival of Rath Yatra combines joy, devotion and physical rigour together. The Chariots Festival of Lord Jagannath at Puri in Orissa is known as Rath Yatra. On this occasion, devotees join hands to pull the massive chariots of their deities over a three-kilometre distance. Of course, this festival is no more confined to Puri where it originated in the past. Now, this festival is also celebrated in different towns and cities of India.

Rath Yatra is celebrated in the Hindu month of Asadha, on the second day after Amavasya, which falls in the month of June or July.

Amidst the enthusiastic cries of ‘Jai Jagannath’ rending the air together with the sounds of gongs, drums and other musical instruments, Sri Jagannath proceeds to his destination, Gundicha Ghara, accompanied by his elder brother Balabhadra and younger sister Subhadra. The three deities ride on different chariots.

The deities stay at Gundicha Ghara for a fortnight and then they return to their temple on their chariots. The Gundicha Gahra is the apartment of Queen Gundicha, where the image of Lord Jagannath was carved from a log of wood by a mysterious craftsman. Surprisingly, all deities in the temples of India are made of stone or metal, while this is the only image which is carved in wood.

Sri Jagannath is a form of Lord Vishnu, and Sri Krishna is perhaps his most popular incarnation. Many of the rituals performed at the Puri Temple are associated with the events in the life of Sri Krishna. Thus, the annual Rath Yatra represents Sri Krishna’s journey from Gokul to Matura.

This is not exactly known when the Rath Yatra began. Records show that it began more than one thousand years ago. We know that the present temple at Puri was built in the twelfth century by Chola Ganga Dev, yet we do not know who built the temple at whose site this temple was built.

This is surprising that most of the ancient temples have lost their glory, and with them the festivals observed in them have waned, yet Rath Yatra continues to generate enthusiasm in the people.

The temple and Rath Yatra at Puri has been witnessed by millions of people. Many of the important people include saints and sers from different religions and faiths. Shankaracharya and Ramanuja visited this temple and founded monasteries at Puri. Nanak and Tulsidas saw divine qualities in the deity. It is believed that Chaitanya Dev disappeared while gazing at Jagnnath. The people visit Puri and take part in Rath Yatra for spiritual peace.

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