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Rath Yatra (West Bengal)

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The Rathyatra or Rathajatra is the second oldest chariot festival in India after the one in Puri. This festival is celebrated in Mahesh, Paschim Banga. The origin of this festival dates back to 1397 and has been celebrated since. This Rathajatra is a week-long festival and is thronged by devotees and visitors who come to have a share in pulling the ropes attached to the respective chariots of Lord Subhadra, Balarama and Jagannath from the Serampur Gundicha Bari temple and back.

In the fourteenth century, the great Bengali sage Drubananda Brahmachari went to the city of Puri. He had a desire to offer ‘bhoga’ to Lord Jagannath with his own hands, but was prevented by the temple authority. Heartbroken he went on a fast till death until he heard the Lord’s sermon directing him to go back to Bengal and make the Lord’s idol at a place called Mahesh. Drubananda Brahmachari carved the idols out of a neem trunk and the rituals pertaining to the temple have been carried out since.

Traditions


The chariot is taken to Serampur Gudicha temple and kept there till Ultorath or Punarjatra. The temple was remade in the year 1755 by Nayanchand Mallik, which cost him Rs 20,000. The chariot or the ratha is a 45-feet-high structure and sits on 10 iron wheels. It is built in the traditional Nabaratna style in the state. The ratha is beautifully decorated with colorful clothes and flowers, adding to the beauty of the festival. This age-old tradition is preserved by the devotees who celebrate it with a lot of fervor.

Tourist Essential


The festival is the oldest Rathyatra in Paschim Banga. More than two to three lakh people come to witness this week-long festival. Devotional songs are sung, and a range of savories are prepared by the temple staff and devotees in praise of the Lord. Tourists can feel the divine presence of the Lord gracing the Rathajatra festival.

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by Kapil
by Kapil
 

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