Today begins the Rath Yatra or chariot festival of the Hindu god Jagannath.
The Rath Yatra marks the annual journey of the three deities from Jagannath temple in three wooden chariots to the Gundecha temple, about two kilometres away.
The festival ends on the ninth day when the deitie's chariots are pulled back by the devotees to the Jagannath temple.
What is Jagganath Yatra-
The word Jugarnaut- comes from-
This wooden collosus with intricately done woodcraft and colorfully decorated befitting the Supreme Godhead of hindus and vaishavas.
Jagannatha at Puri is said to have been built by emperor Anangabhimadeva, historically identified as Angangabhima III belonging to Gangadynasty.
The Temple is said to be more ancient and mentioned in classic texts of Hindu mythology-
Rath Yatra or Chariot of the God consists of a Car of Lord Jagganath and his entourage brother Balarama and consort Subhadra with the Sudarshan wheel.
It reaches his aunts temple some kilometers away, amidst throngs of hundreds of thousands of Hindus and foriegners from every part of the globe.
This is the only occasion when Dieties are brought outside the Sanctum.
The festivity lasts ten days, at the end of which the Chariot is brought back to the Temple in this Car fest that is called Ultara.
Perhaps the grandest congregation of the faithful, it includes the Sacred bathing Snanyatra from the holy springs of temple well.
Three main Chariots roll on, Taladhyaj of Balaram, Darpadalan of Subadra Devi and Nandighosh -the Lords own car.
It is one of the four main sacred spots for Hindus.
The festival starts with various rituals that include the march of the lord to the three chariots (rath). The marching ceremony from temple Shrimandira to the chariots is known as Pahandibije or Pahandi. After that the King of the princely state Puri named Dibyasingha Deo who holds the only right to worship the Lord in this very special day does the rest of rituals including the primary one Chhera Pahanra. It is the ritual of cleaning chariots with a golden broom and mandatory before pulling all three chariots on the grand road (Danda).
Lakhs of devotees assemble at the grand road to witness this divine procession, the journey of Lord from the main temple to the Gundicha temple situated at a distance of 2km. The Rath Yatra comes to an end after eight days vacation of Lord with their return to the main temple. The return journey in Oriya language is known as Bahuda Yatra.
As at Puri this grand festival is also celebrated in all most all other major cities, towns and villages of Orissa. This marks the faith of the people and a magnificent culture. The festival is not confined to Orissa only and has been celebrated in other states as well.