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First comes Sudarshana who takes its place on the chariot of Subhadra. He is followed by Lord Balabhadra. Much smaller, Subhadra, the yellow-golden coloured younger sister of Jagannatha and Balabhadra, follows soon after. Short and slim, in contrast to her two brothers and much lighter, the lady is carried on the shoulders in a supine state. Her movement is much faster and the daitas carrying her almost rush through the process in a running movement. At last comes Lord Jagannatha, darling of the devotees, in a regal procession. Dancers perform traditional Odissi dance to the accompaniment of mardala and mridanga, traditional Orissan percussion instruments, as the procession moves forward. Devotees also perform sankirtan, ritual group chanting of the names of Lords with rhythmic jumping movements.

Chhera Pahanra – (Emperor as Sweeper of the Chariots)

Chhehnra Pahanra ritual of Ratha YatraThe second phase of the festival of Rath Yatra is an equally colorful and elaborate ritual and  is known as Chhera Pahanra and involves the King of Puri sweeping the chariots.The King of Puri, is informed of the deities having taken their places on the chariots through a messenger specially deputed by the temple officials. He then arrives on the avenue carried in a silver plated palanquin in a small procession led by a caparisoned elephant. He climbs the chariots one by one. He first offers his prayers to the deity seated on the chariot. He then cleans the platforms with a golden broom, sprinkling flowers and fragrant water on the surface of the chariot.

The ritual is a public demonstration of the unique philosophy of integration and unity symbolized by Lord Jagannatha. There is no distinction of caste, creed or any other barrier during the entire festivities. After cleansing of the chariots by the Raja and his departure to the palace, the wooden horses, brown, black and white, are fixed to the three chariots. Ending the long wait of the anxious devotees the devotees, thick ropes made of coconut fiber those are as long as 250 feet are tied to the individual chariots and the pulling in of the chariots begins.

The Pulling of Chariots

Ratha Yatra:pulling of ChariotsThe final ritual in the celebration of the Rath Yatra is the pulling of the chariots. The chariot of Lord Balabhadra is pulled first followed by that of goddess Subhadra. At last the grand moment and the climax of the day’s celebration is reached when the chariot of Lord Jagannatha, Nandighosha starts its spectacular journey to the Gundicha temple. Thousands of devotees who patiently wait the whole day for this blessed moment are ecstatic with joy and pull the chariots with a sense of fulfillment.

Bahuda, the Return Festival

Mausimaa temple is visited by lord jagannath in the Rath YatraIn their Garden House, Adapa mandapa, also known as their place of birth, the deities stay for seven days. On the ninth day of the festival of Rath Yatra, Bahuda Jatra, the grand return journey takes place. On the way back they stop for a short while and partake of Poda pitha, a type of cake made of rice, lentils, jaggery and coconut, offered by their aunt, mausima. On reaching back the main temple, the deities, on their chariots, don the golden attire or the suna besa, with hands, arms and crown made of solid gold. They are also offered sweet drinks, adhara pana, on huge cylindrical earthen pots reaching up to their lips. They are taken down from the chariots in a ritual descent to enter the temple.

The Jagannath temple gate is however shut upon Lord Jagannatha by his celestial consort Laxmi. Her anger, jealousy and frustration is articulated by her companions, represented by a group of servitors from inside. Another group representing Lord Jagannatha respond with entreaties and endearments. After re-enacting this drama of daily domestic tiffs of mere mortals, the celestial couple finally makes up, and the temple door is opened and the deities return to their bejeweled throne, the ratna sinhasana.

The Chariot of Lord Jagannath

The three chariots of Balabhadra, Subhadra and Jagannatha are newly constructed every year with wood of specified trees like Sal, dhausa, etc. customarily brought from the ex-princely state of Dasapalla, by a specialist team of carpenters who have hereditary rights and privilege for the same. The logs are traditionally set afloat as rafts in the river Mahanadi. These are collected near Puri and then transported by road.

Nandighosh,the chariot of Lord jagannathThe three chariots are newly constructed every year and decorated as per the unique scheme prescribed and followed for centuries stand on the Bada Danda, the Grand Avenue. Covered with bright canopies made of stripes of red cloth combined with those of black, yellow and blue colours, the huge chariots are lined across the wide avenue right in front of the majestic  temple at Jagannath Puri close to its eastern entrance, also known as the Singhadwara or the Lion’s Gate.

Lord Jagannth's Chariot is called Nandighosa. it is forty-five feet square at the wheel level. It has sixteen wheels, each of seven feet diameters, and is decked with red and yellow coverings of cloth.