Orissa is an eastern state in India with beautiful traditions, culture, and cuisine. It is a coastal state, is known for its beautiful temples and has a history which includes famous dynasties. It has a recorded history of over hundreds of years and is also known for many pilgrimage sites in the state. The capital of Orissa is Bhubaneswar and some of the important towns and cities include Puri, Cuttack, Rourkela, and Berhmapur. This is a relatively untouched and beautiful rural state in India.
Tourism in Orissa
There are different avenues for tourism and pilgrimages in Orissa. The most popular tourist destination especially for pilgrims is the Jagannath Temple in Puri. Other tourist destinations include beautiful museums, beaches, beautiful national parks, and even waterfalls in the monsoon season. One of the most exotic traditions of Orissa is the Jagannath Yatra which takes place every year in June-July and attracts thousands of pilgrims from all over the country and the world.
The Jagannath Temple
The Shri Jagannath Temple in Puri is dedicated to Lord Jagannath which is a form of Vishnu and it is an important temple for Hindus all over the world. The temple was built on the site of an old temple in the 10th century and the famous and exotic Jagannath Yatra has been held and celebrated in this temple for hundreds of years. It is an important Hindu temple and is part of the Char Dham. The English word “Juggernaut” derives its origins from this temple.
The Jagannath Yatra
The Jagannath Yatra is a Rath Yatra at the Jagannath Temple in Puri which takes place every year. This is a very exotic event and is the oldest such yatra that takes place annually anywhere in the world. This yatra has been taking place for 462 years and also took place in a controlled way in 2020 due to restrictions of the global coronavirus pandemic. This is an annual festival that takes place on the second day in the bright fortnight of the Hindu month of Ashadha. The festival ends on the Dashami of the same month which means the tenth day of the bright fortnight of the same month.
Festival of Chariots
This is a Rath Yatra festival which means that a procession of the chariots with devotees participating in the procession. This is a yatra that celebrates the chariots of Lord Jagannath, Lord Balabhadra, and Goddess Subhadra. The idols are removed from the temple and are taken on a “yatra” procession on their rath. This process is called the Pahandi and the festival is celebrated every year to commemorate Lord Jagannath’s annual visit to Gundhicha Temple near Puri. This festival is very colorful with bright colors like red and yellow which are used for the canopies. There are different types of flowers used to decorate the procession.
Details of the Procession
Thousands of devotees from all over the world participate in the Jagannath Yatra. There are three main chariots in the yatra and these chariots are large chariots ranging from the largest which is a 16 wheels chariot to the smallest which is a 12 wheels chariot. Each chariot has its own colors for the canopies, guardian, charioteers, flag name, and flag emblem. Each horse for each chariot is named and there is an accompanying deity for each chariot. There is a detailed tradition associated with each chariot of the yatra. Each chariot has accompanying deities and subsidiary deities and even the chariot ropes are named for all three chariots. Each chariot has gatekeepers and the chariots are wooden and elaborately decorated.
The Jagannath Yatra is the most popular tourist attraction in Orissa and is one of the most exotic traditions of Orissa. It is an important aspect of the culture of the state and is known all over the world.