Things to do in Puri

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The Jagannath Rathyatra which is one of the biggest processions held in Puri is something that cannot be missed. Apart from this you can also enjoy shopping of items like handicrafts and sarees in Puri.

Jagannath RathYatra

RathaYatra is the grand conclusion and finale of the most grand and countless festivals celebrated round the year in the holy city of Puri, in the summer and the monsoon months.

During Akshaya Trutiya tithi the construction of the Rathas (chariots) begins for the traditional journey and sojourn of Lord Jagannath, Balabhadra and Subhadra at the Gundicha Temple which go on for a week.

On the occasion of Snana Yatra, which is the Bathing Festival celebrated on the full-moon day in the month of Jyestha (May-June), when the three deities move in colorful processions to a platform in the outer enclosure of the temple, the Snana Vedi, the bathing platform, where they bath with one hundred and eight pitchers of perfumed water drawn from a temple well once a year. After the ritual bath, the deities assume the special elephant form, recalling the legend of the Lord's affection for a devotee, whom he proved that he was in fact another manifestation of Lord Ganesha.

The holy harmony, apparently badly affected with fever, at the end of the Snana Yatra day, do not return to their pedestal in the sanctum. The holy harmony for a period of fifteen days, called Anasara, stay away from the public view after which they appear in their Navayauvana Vesha, literally a transformed youth, on the new moon day of the month of Ashadha. The fresh coat of painting that the icons get during this fortnight gets washed out on the day of the Bathing Festival. This is the period when the deities eat only fruits other controlled diet and soft drinks. In order to hide the deities from the devotees to see and worship cloth paintings representing the deities called Anasara Pati, are displayed beyond the enclosures.

On the second day of the dazzling fortnight in the month of Ashadha finally comes the Ratha Yatra when the three deities come out of the temple in a spectacular procession called Pahandi. The deities, which are gigantic wooden statues, decorated with huge floral crowns, called Tahias, are literally pulled, pushed and dragged in rhythmic movement to the supplement of the beat of cymbals, drums and chanting of their names in chorus by devotees in frenzied ecstasy. After this the ChheraPamhara, the ritual of sweeping of the chariots with a golden broom by the Gajapati King of Puri, the foremost servant of God, the Adyasevaka of Lord Jagannath is started when the deities are seated in their respective chariots. To perform the ChheraPamhara which is a symbolic rite which proclaims that the King, like others, is but a humble servant of the real sovereign, Lord Jagannath the King comes from his palace on a richly decorated palanquin.

Pulling of chariots by thousands of people by laying their hands on the powerful ropes and dragging the huge structures along the Bada-Danda, the grand road is the most exhilarating part of the Rathyatra. The order of the movement of the chariot is that the chariot of Balabhadra moves first, followed by those of Subhadra and Jagannath. The chariots move ahead gradually and steadily unless and until the chariots reach the Gundicha temple and the three deities rest for a night at the entrance on their own chariots. They enter the Gundicha temple on the next day in the usual Pahandi style and stay there for seven days.

On the very fifth day of the fortnight which is the Hera Panchami day Godess Laxmi, who gets angry for being left out at the temple, proceeds to the Gundicha temple to meet her Lord, Jagannath. In her anger and hatred she silently looks at her Lord, and after destructing a part of Jagannath's chariot she returns to the temple.

After the seven-day stay at Gundicha Temple, their garden house, the deities, begin their return journey. This yatra which is held on the tenth day of bright fortnight of Ashadha is called Bahuda Yatra. The order of the movement of the chariot in case of return is in the same order as in the Rath Yatra that is the chariot of Balabhadra moves first, followed by those of Subhadra and Jagannath. While returning back Jagannath stops for a while at Ardhasani temple, commonly called Mausi Ma temple or the temple of Aunt to accept from the aunt his favorite rice cake, Poda Pitha. Thousands of devotees are there to pull the three chariots and finally the three chariots reach back the Simhadwara in the late afternoon of the Bahuda day and the deities remain seated on their chariots. On the Bada Ekadasi day which is the next very day only, the three deities are attired in costumes of sparkling gold and this very form of the deities is known as the famous SunaVesa and is worshipped by thousands of devotees. The three deities go back to the Ratna Simhasana, on the Dwadasi day, which is their original place which is literally the jeweled platform, with the usual fanfare and the Pahandi style. Thus this way their arrival into the Sanctum sanctorum marks the end of the Ratha Yatra the grand festival of chariots.

Each year a specialist team of carpenters having hereditary rights do the construction of the three Chariots of Balabhadra, Subhadra and Jagannath each year with Sal wood, as a matter of course brought from the ex princely State of Dasapalla. The Chariot of Lord Jagannath is a forty-five feet square at the wheel level, has sixteen wheels, each with seven feet diameter, and is decked with red and yellow coverings of cloth and this chariot of Lord Jagannath's is called Nandighosa

The Chariot of Lord Balabhadra with a height of forty-four feet, has fourteen wheels, each with seven feet diameter, and is covered with red and blue cloth and this chariot of Lord Balabhadra is called the Taladhwaja.

The Chariot of Subhadra is forty-three feet high with twelve wheels, each with seven feet diameter and is decked with the coverings of red and black cloth and this chariot of Subhdra is called Darpadalan.

Nine Parsvadevatas, the guardian deities, and four horses are there around each of the three chariots of Jagannath, Balabhadra and Subhadra and also each chariot has Charioteer called Sarathi. Matali, Darruka and Arjuna are the three charioteers.

Shopping in Puri

Handicrafts of the Region: Soap Stone, Sea-shell, Pattachitras and Palm Leaf paintings, Horn work, Wood carvings, and Solapith work can be purchased from Puri. You can also buy good cotton sarees around Temple Road.

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