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.
Where there are pilgrims, the stuff they buy follows…
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).
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.
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.
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.
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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