RathaYatra, one of the famous festivals of India is going to be celebrated on 6th July 2016 with much colour and anticipation. The return Yatra falls on 15th July this year. Also known as the Chariot or Car festival, this is the most awaited Hindu festivals where Lord Jagannath, believed to be an avatar of Lord Vishnu, with his elder brother Balabhadra and sister Subhadra, goes on a trip. They travel on three grand chariots from his temple in Puri to his garden palace situated not far in the countryside. It is said that whosoever touches the holy rope of the chariots attached to move the construction, will receive to rest their soul in heaven.
ISKCON is celebrating their 45th years of RathaYatra this year and has already started the preparation with celebrity promotion and trailer video in their website.
The grand festival starts with the ‘RathaPrathistha’ or invoking ceremony in the morning. But the most exciting celebrations starts in the afternoon where the chariots of Jagannath, Balabhadra and Subhadra start progressing. These carriages have very different name as well as specifications: The chariot of Lord Jagannath is called Nandighosa which has 18 wheels and is 23 cubits high; the chariot of Balabhadra is called Taladhvaja and has 16 wheels and is 22 cubits high; the chariot of Subhadra is called Devadalana, which has 14 wheels and is 21 cubits high.
There is a popular myth on how the festival had started in the ancient ages. The story tells that after the great Mahabharata war, the chief minister of the King of Avanti had a dream where the god Nilamadhava beckoning to him to come to a certain place. But to his dismay, the chief minister didn’t find the idol. After 2 years, during the Ashvamedha Yagna, the King Indradyumna heard the voice of the lord Nilamadhava who was asking to look for a piece of neem wood and they actually find a piece of neem wood with some strange marking on it. At that very moment, a carpenter walked in and agreed to shape the woods with one condition that no one will disturb while his eight days work hours and he would open the door once the task was complete. After four or five days, not hearing a single sound from the room, the king ordered to the door and found, to his surprise, no one was inside except four incomplete idols. It is believed that the carpenter was Lord Krishna who had fashioned the idol and till date, the idols are made without hands and feet.
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