While the boon of technology keeps one grounded with their roots no matter where one is, it is also the best way to share information about ones’ traditions and culture.
Here are some interesting facts about Rath Yatra which you might know or might not:
1. The Unexplained Rainfall on the Day of Festival
Even though this unique festival most of the time falls during the Monsoon Season in India. According to certain record there hasn’t been a single Rath Yatra that it hasn’t rained. There have been times that it hasn’t rained for days before Rath Yatra and on that day it pours. Well I know it did in 1928 , according this rare video.
2. The Builders of the Chariot
Every year these humongous chariots are built from scratch by a team of carpenters (1400 approx.) who do this job every year voluntarily. Measuring almost 45ft High and having 18.16 and 14 wheels the three chariots are built to precision without any measuring tapes. All that is used is an ancient technique of measurement using hands and finger lengths.
Interesting thing to note is that to make this massive chariots not a single metal nail is used but the old school carpentry method of using wooden pegs and joints.
3. Even Gods Need Cajoling
Common Folklore has it that the deities refuse to go to their aunt’s house (Gundicha) and the chariots eerily refuse to budge even an inch with 1000s of people pulling it with brute force. But after much coaxing and requests done to the deities by their servitors does that Chariots finally start moving.
4. It’s a Legacy
There are a fixed number of families of traditional carpenters who build the chariots every year from the time of its inception and the methods, measurement, techniques etc. to build the same are handed down through generations. All the chariots construction is started and finished simultaneously.
5. The Source of Wood
The wood used in the construction of this comes from two nearby forests Dashpalla and Ranapur. Since the amount of wood used for these chariots is a lot, double the amount of saplings are planted simultaneously.
6. The Naming Convention
Apart from the chariots, the flags on top of each as well as the ropes with which they are pulled each have a unique name.
7. A Humble Service
It is only after that the presiding king of Puri sweeps all the chariots with a broom made out of gold and using fragrant water that the pulling of the chariots commences.
8. Servitors to the Lord
Dahuka are a sect of servitors to the lords apart from Suaras and Mahasuaras. These Dahukas having a unique tradition of singing something known as Dahuka Boli or Dahuka Gita.Now these are mostly rhyming poems which symbolise things like fertility and life cycle and have a lot of explicit words which is generally not heard near religious ceremonies and are recited very openly without holding back any of this explicit lyrics. Apparently the legend goes as the Chariots do not move if these are not recited. But due to certain reasons this tradition was banned by the Temple officials from 1995 and apart from a few exceptions since then it is now a dying tradition.
9. A Grand Kitchen
The wood used in the making of these chariots after the festival are used to cook Mahaprasad which is made up of 56 different varieties and is cooked in the Temple kitchen which is the largest community kitchen in the world and can cook for up to 100000 people at a time. The amazing thing about this is that the amount of food cooked every day is the same and it has never been wasted ever.
10. Origin of Juggernaut
The English word Juggernaut is derived from Jagannath.
Meaning a large, heavy vehicle, especially an articulated lorry or a huge, powerful, and overwhelming force. When the British officials saw the sheer size of the chariots were astonished beyond imagination and formed this word for anything that was huge and a vehicle.
Rath Yatra is a larger than life spectacle and every year lakhs of devotees come to witness it in all its colour, customs and glory. Not just a festival, it is a staunch reminder of the belief and faith which binds us together.
[Contributed by: Rachit Kirteeman]