|intricately carved wooden chariot base. vallayapatti agraharam, near Kumbakonam, Tamil Nadu. www.panoramio.com|
|The newly decorated car of the Brihadeeswarar Temple in Thanjavur,Tamil Nadu, April, 2015. introduced for the first time after a gap of 100 years. www.thehindu.com|
|Base of a chariot, chinna Thirupathi. en.wikipedia.org.|
|fascinating three chariots (ratha or ther), Puri temple, oldest in India.odisha.www.newindianexpress.com|
|400 plus ton Azhi ther (rath),Thiruvarur, Tamil Nadu. Tyagaraja swamy temple. www.thiyagarajaswamytemple.tnhrce.in|
|Sri Andal temple, ratha utchavam. Sri villiputhur, tamil nadu. ther ottam. 2013.Sri www.thehindu.com|
|Udipi Sri Krishna temple, Ratha yatra note design of the canopy over the base of the chariot. www.daijiworld.com|
|Udipi Sri Krishna temple, car festival Swamiji, Pejavar mutt blessing the devotees, Karnataka. www.daijiworld.com/|
The Rathotsavam (Chariot Festival), that is an annual gala event, is a tradition that goes back to several centuries. No matter where it is held, the festival is always conducted with gaiety, splendor and utter devotion. Normally such grand festivals start on an auspicious day only and prior to that Vedic Pandits perform homams - special prayer before holy fire for the success of the festival and for the welfare of the people. The oldest rath yatra in the world is
that of Puri Jagannath temple followed by rathyatra of Mahesh, Jagannath temple, Serampore, west Bengal.
|rathyatra of Mahesh Serampore.calcutta-kolkata-asim.blogspot.in|
Tradition has it the god and goddesses are colorfully dressed in various styles, befitting the occasion and, during the fete, they are taken out of the temple for a celestial ride around the temple on the streets normally called Sannidhi streets in Tamil Nadu. Such streets are broad enough to accommodate the huge moving ratha and are well laid to take the weight of the chariot. Utchavar idols - representation of idols in the Srikovil or Sanctum are used for this purpose. The huge chariot moves along as the devotees chant God's name in chorus and pull the big, specially made rope connected to the mammoth chariot. In many case such heavy chariots need additional pushing from behind to tackle gradients and huge bulldozers are used for this purpose. The belief is that pulling the chariot carrying the deities will wash off sins and drive away our inner negative thoughts and instill confidence in us to face challenges in life.
The spiritual significance of the Ratha Yatra as expounded in the Upanishad is the festival perceives the human body as Rath (chariot) and the God as the Sarathi or driver who drives the chariot of body and takes it on a journey or yatra to material existence or Bhavasagar. Spiritually speaking, the soul goes along with in the Rath - body, and the intellect is totally devoted to God, the driver of the chariot towards the material existence. The wheels of the Rath or chariot are personification of valor. The horses, symbolic of the Vedas, are synonymous with vigor, charity, tolerance, self-discipline and discrimination (to know the right and wrong). On the other hand, the reigns of horses are pity, equanimity and forgiveness.
"Rathayatra celebrated in West Bengal". The Hindu. 4 July 2008.