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Jagannath Rath Yatra Story

This story teaches us that devotion and patience can bring special blessings from God and make our lives happier.

Keywords: tradition, devotion, festival

Jagannath Rath Yatra Story


Jagannath Rath Yatra, also known as Rath Yatra of Puri or chariot festival, is a special parade in which big statues of deities Jagannath (Vishnu avatar), Balabhadra (his brother), Subhadra (his sister) and Sudarshana Chakra (his weapon) are carried by their devotees on three massive ratha (chariots).

These gods are typically worshipped in the temple at Puri, the Jagannath temple. However, once during the month of Asadha, which falls in June or July during the rainy season, the idols are brought out onto the main street of Puri. They travel to another temple called Shri Gundicha Temple, about 3 kilometres away, in huge chariots. This allows the public to have darshana (a holy view).

Let us hear the interesting story to know why Rath Yatra is celebrated.

Once upon a time, there was a kind king named Indradyumn and his queen, Gundicha. They were devotees of Lord Krishna. One night, Lord Krishna appeared in the king’s dreams and asked him to make wooden sculptures of him and his siblings.

The king woke up excited and told the queen about his dream. They decided to fulfil Lord Krishna’s wish. They found an old and wise architect to make the statues in the palace.

The old man said, "I will make the statues, but please do not open the door for 21 days."

The old architect started working behind closed doors, and everyone could hear the sounds of his tools. Day after day, the sounds continued. But after 15 days, the sounds suddenly stopped. The queen got worried and thought, "Oh no, did something happen to the old man?"

She requested her husband to open the door before time. The king made his guards open the door and found three beautiful idols of Lord Jagannath, Devi Subhadra, and Lord Balabhadra. But the statues looked a bit different and unfinished. The king felt sad and regretted his decision.

Suddenly, a voice from the sky (called an akashvani) spoke, “Dear King, do not worry! My idols are not incomplete. Provide them with clothes and place them in a temple. In this form, I am here to help people and guide them in Kalyuga. From now on, I will be known as Jagannath.

A grand temple was built for the statues, and special ceremonies called pran pratishtha were held to bring the statues to life. Gods from heaven showered flowers from the sky, and everyone danced joyfully to welcome Lord Jagannath.

Soon, Lord Jagannath, with his brother Balabhadra and sister Subhadra, appeared before the king and queen. The king and queen were amazed and bowed with respect.

Lord Jagannath smiled and said, “I am pleased with your devotion. What blessing would you like?”

King Indradyumna replied, “I have two wishes. First, I wish not to have any children so that no one can claim the temple as their property. Second, I wish that you eat all day but only sleep for three hours, so that you can give darshan (blessings) to the people for most of the day.”

Lord Jagannath granted the king’s two wishes. Then he noticed that Queen Gundicha looked a bit worried. He asked, “Why are you worried, Queen?”

Queen Gundicha replied, It is every woman’s dream to have a child of her own, who will take care of her and remember her after she is gone.”

With a warm smile, Lord Jagannath said, “Don’t worry, Mother. From now on, Balabhadra and I will be your sons. Every year, we will come here to visit you.”

After saying this, Lord Jagannath and his siblings left the Gundicha temple on their chariots. 

From that year onwards, to keep his promise, Lord Jagannath with his brother Lord Balabhadra, and sister Devi Subhadra make a special journey from their home to visit their aunt, Queen Gundicha. Peacefully, they spend nine days there, enjoying the beautiful garden, and eating delicious dishes prepared by their aunt.

To honour the journey of Lord Jagannath and his siblings from their abode to their aunt’s home, the Rath Yatra of Puri takes place every year. Thousands of devotees pull the huge, temple-sized chariots. Traditional songs are sung along with instruments like drums and flutes. The people sing, dance, and devote themselves to the deity, celebrating the journey of Lord Jagannath and his family. Jagannath Rath Yatra is a great attraction for devotees and tourists from all over the world.

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Source: Jagannath Prarthana

अनाथस्य जगन्नाथ नाथस्त्वं मे न संशयः ।

यस्य नाथो जगन्नाथस्तस्य दुःखं कथं प्रभो ॥

anaathasya jagannaatha naathastvam me na samshayah ।

yasya naatho jagannaathastasya duhkham katham prabho ॥


Without any doubt, one who without protector, Lord Jagannath is their protector. And when Lord Jagannath is your protector, what is there to worry about?

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Story type: Spiritual

Age: 6+years; Class: 2+

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