Jagannath Rath Yatra Puri – My Second Visit

This was my second visit to Puri to cover the Jagannath Rath Yatra. You can read about my first visit here.

I was not very happy with my pictures taken during my last visit, hence I had to be back again. This time, I also stayed for a longer time and saw the whole process of making the Ratha (chariot). You can read about it here.

Much before the day of the Ratha Yatra, pilgrims started pouring in from all over the world. However, on the day of the Yatra, its unbelievable. An estimated number of one million people come to pay their homage to the Lord. This year, 2015 there is a special Nabakalebar Puri Rath Yatra Festival.

The Rath Yatra begins on the second day of Shukla Paksha the month of Ashadha, as per the traditional Oriya Calendar. In 2015, it commences on July 18 and ends on July 30.

The term Nabakalebara is an ancient ritual followed in the Jagannath Temples when the Idols of Lord Jagannath, Balabhadra, Subhadra and Sudarshan are replaced by a new set of Idols made of neem wood. This ritual happens once in 9 to 19 years. It happened the last time in 1996.

The following is my endeavour to capture the festival.

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Capturing a glimpse of the Ratha with a cellphone. 
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A man dressed as Hanuman – the monkey god.
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The musical instrument Khol is a very important part of doing Keertans. 
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I also saw a group of devotees of Asaram ji Bapu, who is in prison in some sexual abuse case. They were holding placards writing – Bapu is Innocent. 
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Where there are pilgrims, the stuff they buy follows…

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“This is my final price – do you want it or not?”

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A Hi-tech sadhu (ascetic) trying to capture the moments with his cell phone. 
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Entertainers from Andhra also reach here to show their talent. 
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The management was doing a great job. Ambulances were roaming around to cater to emergencies. 
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After spending several hours walking all around, I took a space in this gallery. I got the advantage of the last minute booking and the ticket cost me Rs.250/- There are some restaurants providing full day package of sitting and enjoying from the balcony at Rs.3500/- per person (including breakfast and lunch).  
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These crowded areas are also pick-pocketing.  Be very choosy on what you carry and carry it carefully.

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And the Rath moves!

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The is the time when maximum number of people can be seen concentrated to one place. I was so glad I was not one of them, though I going them after sometime. 
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The concentration of the crowd is around the Ratha. Sometimes, the crowd goes out of control. There have been cases of stampede in the past.

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A mere glimpse of Lord Jagannath on the chariot, or even to touch the chariot, is considered to be very auspicious. As you can see in the picture below, there is a huge tussle to touch the rope and pull it. Recently, the administration have been very strict on who can come near the chariot. There was several layers of shield around the Ratha.


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The Ratha finally reached Gundicha temple where it is parked with the gods seated in the rathas. People buy lamps to offer to the gods. 
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The Rath Yatra festival is the only occasion when non-Hindu devotees, who aren’t allowed inside the temple, can get their glimpse of the deities. For me, as a photographer, this is the only time, I can take pictures of the god.

 

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I end this post with some sweet prasad (offering to the gods) which people take back home.
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This post is written by Saurabh Chatterjee. He is a travel photographer and a photography trainer.
He strives to ‘make every camera-owner a great photographer through his Photography workshops and Photo Tours and Photowalks.
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One Comment

  1. Celebrated in the month of Ashada (June-July)
    Marks the annual visit of Lord Jagannath to the Gundicha Temple
    Bada Danda, the long stretch walking up to the temple
    Biggest festivals of Gaudiya Vaishnavas
    Lord Krishna’s pastime with gopikas and other inhabitants of Brindavanam

    all to-gether “Ratha Yatra” at Puri, Odisha
    https://blogbeats.me/beats/blog/2016/07/And–The-Lords-Descend-to-Bless-Mankind/577c0174e4b04cda8174a795

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