Lord Jagannath’s abode in Puri attracts Yatris not only from all over the country but also from the world over in millions. The Yatra that began on Thursday is eagerly looked for year after year.
The yatra marks an annual tradition that draws huge crowds to elicit the blessings of Lord Vishnu. As part of the 10-day fest, the images of Lord Jagannath, Balbhadra and Subhadra are dislodged from the sanctum sanctorum and are taken on chariots to the temple of Devi Gundicha (their aunt), 2 km away, where they rest for nine days; and then brought back to their own temple in Puri.
What is unique about the Rath Yatra is that there is no discrimination; the king and sweepers together pull the lord’s chariot with great fervour and equality.
The yatra is also celebrated with equal enthusiasm in other cities like Ahmedabad, Delhi and Varanasi also.
The main Jagannath temple in Puri is huge and impressive. At the entrance, there is the Aruna pillar brought over from Konark. One can have ‘darshan’ from this point. Some distance away, there is the Vishwanatha lingam and the legend has that a Brahmin wanted to go to Kashi, Jagannath told him to worship that ‘linga’ to be blessed.
The yatris have to climb 25 steps which indicate the 25 symbols of nature. In another corner, there are three steps. One is that of Ajarnath Ganesh, the second is of Batera Mahadev and the third is of Patmangladevi. If one cannot make it to Puri to be part of the yatra, remember the Lord and participate in the celebrations in your city. The Lord is benevolent to all.