In Pictures: Ratha Yatra by Subas Pani | books$excerpts | Hindustan Times
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In Pictures: Ratha Yatra by Subas Pani

Ratha Yatra by Subas Pani presents the many aspects of Odisha’s spectacular chariot festival

books Updated: Jul 17, 2017 21:18 IST
On the way. The chariot of Subhadra midway on its return journey form the Gundicha Temple to Srimandira.
On the way. The chariot of Subhadra midway on its return journey form the Gundicha Temple to Srimandira. (Text and photographs copyright Subas Pani)

Ratha Yatra; the ancient festival of the chariot journey by Jagannatha, the presiding deity of the great temple Srimandira at Puri, is one of the grandest spectacles on earth. Jagannatha and his siblings Balabhadra and Subhadra ride three colourful chariots in their annual sojourn to their garden house and birthplace, the Gundicha Temple, where they stay for seven days before returning. Full of drama, and a panoply of rituals and ceremonies, Ratha Yatra is rooted in ancient traditions, myths and legends and embodies the most colourful elements of the classical and folk cultures of the Indian subcontinent and the Odisha region.

This book is a comprehensive account of Ratha Yatra, the great socio-cultural and religious event and phenomenon unique in the entire world. It provides the background on the syncretic faith represented by Jagannatha, his origin and strong links with the heritage of aborigine ribes and an accout of the Naba Kalebara ceremonies, celbrating the periodic renewal of the bodies of the presiding deities. Rich in detail, the book covers a wide span including the sacred geography of Puri, legends surrounding the temple, the uniqe architectural style of the temple complex, the elaborate preparatory summer festivals leading up to the main festival and the process of making the chariots with its associated special ceremonies. It brings alive every stage of the intricate rituals and cermonies lasting almost two months, giving a complete portrayal of the different phases of the festival.*

After the sketch is completed, colours are applied and the painting completed. The photograph shows the painting of the Anasara pati by the Chitrakara Sevakas with the privilege of this seva. While a single individual may have the formal privilege, members of the extended family help out in completing and finishing the paintings. (Text and photographs copyright Subas Pani)
Readying the horses for the ride. the servitors place garlands of lotus flowers on the horses of Taladhvija before the start of the return journey. (Text and photographs copyright Subas Pani)
Dahuka, the cheerleader-navigators of Taladhvaja, egging on the crowd to pull the chariot with all their energy and enthusiasm. (Text and photographs copyright Subas Pani)
Balabhadra, Subhadra and Jagannatha on Snana Mandapa during Snanan Poornima. (Text and photographs copyright Subas Pani)
Nilachakra atop the spire of the sanctum of Srimandira. One can offer worship to the presiding deities of Srimandira even by offering this to Nilachakra seen from afar. Also notice Patitapabana Bana fluttering above it. Any food offered this way is known as Chakra Manohi. (Text and photographs copyright Subas Pani)
The large golden tiara or kireeta for Suna Besha being carried by a servitor seen at the top of Baisi Pahacha. Others can be seen carrying the ploughshare for Balabhadra and a a mayura chandrika for Jagannatha. (Text and photographs copyright Subas Pani)
A traditional naga image displayed during Gosani Yatra. They represent the valiant young men who took the challenge of protecting the deity and the temple from foreign attacks. Notice the chiselled, muscular build, the result of body building through rigorous exercise nad practice in the jaga akhadas of Puri. (Text and photographs copyright Subas Pani)
The three chariots Taladhvaja, Deadalana and Nandighosha (from left to right) arrayed majestically in front of Srimandira during Suna Besha. The deities are seated in their golden appearance, a most enchanting and stunning spectacle and a high point of the entire Ratha Yatra festival attracting a huge congregation of devotees, pilgrims and tourists. (Text and photographs copyright Subas Pani)
Madanamohana, Sridevi and Bhudevi on arrival at Narendra Tank for the ritual bat and boat ride during Chandana Yatra. (Text and photographs copyright Subas Pani)

Read more: View finder | Rath Yatra, Puri

*Text from the book’s front flap.