Puri is the place of Lord Jagannath, in fact, Jagannath Puri is another name for Puri which is situated in the state of Orissa, India.
The enlivening city Puri is considered among the ‘Char Dhams’ for the Hindus and one of the most sacred pilgrim centers in India, nestled on the Eastern coast of the Bay of Bengal. Puri is recognized for its world famous Jagannath Temple that attracts millions of spiritual leaders, devotees and pilgrims all over the world.
According to the Hindu myths, Puri is the adobe of Lord Krishna, Lord Krishna is the eighth avatar (incarnation) of Lord Vishnu (God Jagannath – The Lord of the Universe). It is a good fortune of a person to come here to pray at the Jagannath Temple and to be the part of holy ‘Rath Yatra’ or Roth Jatra or Chariot Festival that takes place every year in the month of June/July.
This is one of the most awaited Hindu festivals of the state as well as the country. In the Jagannath Temple the 3 hindu deities. Lord Jagannath and His siblings (his elder brother Lord Balabhadra and their sister Subhadra) are worshipped. On this annual festival they are taken to the main streets of Puri known as Bada Danda. Chariot Festival is the only day when each and everyone can have the chance to see them even who are not allowed into the temple such as non-Hindus. In the other words this is a festival of equality and integration.
The Lord comes out of the temple once a year to visit his Aunts place known as Gundicha Temple which is about two miles away to the North from the main temple. Three different sizes of chariots made by devotees for this Rathayatra. NANDIGHOSH (for Lord Jagannath), it is 45ft (13.71mts) high and having sixteen wheels. TALADVAJA (for Lord Balabhadra), it is 44ft (13.2mts), and consists of fourteen wheels and PADMADHVAJA (for Lady Subhadra), It is 43ft (12.9mts) in height and consist of twelve wheels.
The chariots are pulled by several thousand devotees at a time with the chanting of Holy names of the deities. Along with the musical beat of carillon, huge drums the wooden chariots are pulled to the corridors of the Aunt’s place. Full of spectacles, drama and color, the festival is known for its grandeur.
In the middle of the Yatra a ceremony is also celebrated on “Jyesthapurnima”, here the deities are bathed with 108 pots water of sacred well, and after that they offered BHOG and ARATHI. After a stay for seven days at Gundicha Temple, the deities return to their abode.
Several mythical stories are associated with the celebration of this Rath Yatra festival –
According to the legends Gundicha Gharis consider as the birthplace of Lord Krishna. It is also considered that Lord Krishna expresses his felling that he wants to visit Gundicha ghar one in a year for seven day i.e. for a week. So every year he spent seven days at this place, along with his elder brother Balbhadra and younger sister Subhadra.
Some other people also believe that – Kansa, the maternal uncle of Lord Krishna and Balram. He invited Lord Krishna and Balram to Mathura with the intensions to kill them. Kansa sent a chariot to bring them (Lord Krishna, along with Balram) and asked to left Gokul and move for Mathura. From that day the devotees of Lord Krishna celebrate Rath Yatra every year.
This annual event is celebrate by Millions of devotees come across the world.