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Ratha Yatra(ରଥଯାତ୍ରା)


Ratha Jatra (ରଥଯାତ୍ରା) or the Car Festival is a huge Hindu festival associated with Lord Jagannath held at Puri in the state of Odisha, India.
This annual festival is celebrated on Ashad Shukla Dwitiya (second day in bright fortnight of Ashad month). In 2013 it falls on the 10th of July.
The festival commemorates Lord Jagannath's annual visit to Gundicha mata's temple via aunt's home (Mausi Maa Temple which is near Balagandi Chaka in Puri).
As part of Ratha Jatra, the deities of Lord Puri Jagannath, Lord Balabhadra and Subhadra are taken out in a procession to Gundicha Temple and remain there for nine days. Then the deities or Ratha Jatra return to Puri Jagannath temple. The return journey of Puri Jagannath Ratha Jatra is known as Bahuda Jatra.

This colourful festival which draws millions of devotees from various parts of the country as well as from abroad to Puri, is held in June-July every year. Lord Jagannath, Lord of the Universe, comes out of His sanctum sanctorum to give Darshan to all Devotees belonging to all sects and communities.lt is said that those who take part in the Car Festival earn their passage to the Heaven.

Snana Pumima' marks the beginning of this festival. On this day the three deities - Lord Jagannath, Lord Balabhadra and Devi Subhadra take prolonged bath on an open platform known as 'Snana Bedi', Then they retire for 15 days popularly called the period of 'Anabasara' and remain in isolation. During this period, no public worship is performed. After 15 days of isolation, the Gods come out of the temple in a colourful procession to board their respective Chariots and thereafter begins the journey known as "Ratha Jatra'. 

The much famous Temple Chariot Festival of Lord Jagannath, takes place in Puri. On the first day, the Jagannath temple images are carried through the street in three huge thundering chariots which have made this event internationally known. Nine days later, the journey is repeated in the opposite direction. To witness this festival is an experience of a life time, but ensure to book rooms and make all other arrangements well in advance.

Each year, in monsoon season, the proxy images of Jagannath, Balabhadra and Subhadra--the deities enshrined in the Jagannath Temple at Puri--are carried in colorful processions every evening for 21 days to the Narendra Tank where they cruise in a bright decorated boat.
In gaiety and color, this festival stands next only to the Car Festival. On the full noon day of Jyestha (June), the Sananjatra or the bathing festival is observed when the images in worship are actually brought out for public viewing.

After the bathing festival, the deities spend 15 days in seclusion during which period they are repainted and prepared for the Car Festival. The Car Festival is celebrated on the second day of the bright fortnight of Ashadha (June-July) and the deities are taken on a journey of around 3 kms in stupendous and decorated chariots for sojourn in the Gundicha Ghar till the return Car Festival which is held 9 days later.

The chariot of Lord Jagannath, known as 'Nandighose', is 23 cubits high and has 18 wheels. The chariot of Balabhadra, which is 22 cubits in height and has 16 wheels, is named 'Taladwaja'. 'Devadalan' the chariot of Subhadra, is 21 cubits in height and has 14 wheels.
The chariots are made anew every year in accordance with strict and ancient specifications and are pulled by several thousand devotees at a time. In terms of splendor and fervent devotion, the Car Festival is one of the world's most incredible spectacles.

Foods: 
    1.Poda Pitha

Ingredients:
  • 300gm Rice (ଚାଉଳ)
  • 150gm black gram - without outer skin (ଚୋପା ଛଡା ବିରି)
  • 1 cup finely scrubbed coconut (ନଡିଆ କୋରା)
  • 10-15 small pieces of thin coconut slices (ନଡିଆ ଖଣ୍ଡ)
  • 200gm sugar / jaggery  (ଚିନି / ଗୁଡ)
  • 50gm chopped ginger (ଅଦା)
  • ½ bowl of cashew nut – broken into pieces ( କାଜୁ ଖଣ୍ଡ)
  • 1 table spoon ghee or refined oil (ଘିଅ)
  • ½ teaspoon salt (ଲୁଣ)
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder (ସୋଢା)
Method:
  • Soak the rice and black gram in water in separate bowls for about 4 hours. 
  • Wash them thoroughly. 
  • Put the black gram with water in the grinder and form a fine batter. 
  • Do the same with rice too but keep in mind that the batter should be coarse and not as fine as the batter of black gram. 
  • Mix both the batters and add coconut slices, grated coconut, chopped ginger, salt, sugar, cashew nuts and baking powder. 
  • Mix all the ingredients well and keep it covered for about 2 hours for self-fermentation. Pre-heat the pressure cooker. 
  • Form a thin layer of oil on all the inner surface of the cooker. 
  • Now pour the mixed batter into the cooker and close the lid (without mounting the whistle-weight). 
  • Place the pressure cooker in simmer flame for about one hour. 
  • Now your hot poda pitha is ready. 
  • When the cooker comes to normal temperature take out the pitha carefully, and cut it into desired shapes and serve.
    2. Khichudi 

 Ingredients:
  • 2 cups soaked long grained rice (ଚାଉଳ)
  • 3 cups yellow moong dal (split yellow gram) , soaked (ମୁଗ ଡାଲି)
  • 2 potatoes , chopped (ଆଳୁ)
  • 1/4 cup green peas
  • 1 carrot , chopped (ଗାଜର)
  • 3 green chillies , chopped
  • 1 tsp grated ginger (ଅଦା)
  • 4 to 5 cloves (laung / lavang)
  • 1 bayleaf (ତେଜ ପ ତର)
  • 1 tsp turmeric powder (ହଳଦୀ ଗୁଣ୍ଡ)
  • 2 tsp coriander-cumin powder (ଧନିଆ, ଜିରା ଗୁଣ୍ଡ)
  • a pinch of asafoetida (hing)
  • 1 tbsp ghee (ଘିଅ)
  • 1 tsp cumin seeds (ଜିରା)
  • salt to taste (ଲୁଣ)
  Method:
  • Heat the ghee in a pressure cooker and add the cumin seeds.
  • When the seeds crackle, add the add curry leaves, green chillies, ginger, red chillies, cloves and bayleaf and saute for 30 seconds.
  • Add the vegetables and the remaining ingredients, mix well and add the 1 cup of water.
  • Add the rice and dal with enough water and cover and pressure cook for 4 whistles.
  • Allow the steam to escape before opening the lid.Serve hot.

    3.Makhane Ki Kheer (Roasted Foxnuts Pudding)



    Ingredients:
    • Full cream milk - 1 ltr
    • Almond (chopped) - 1 tsp
    • Makhane(puffed lotus seeds) - 50 grms
    • Kevra water - 1 tsp
    • Sugar - 1/2 cup

    Method:

    • Cut each makhana in at least 4 pieces. Keep aside.
    • Chop almonds coarsely lengthwise and keep aside.
    • Heat milk in a large pan. Once it starts boiling, add cut makhane in the milk and reduce the heat. Keep stirring every now and then so that the milk does not stick to the bottom and burn.
    • Milk will slowly start reducing. Wait till it’s reduced to about half the volume.
    • Add sugar and stir till it’s fully dissolved. Turn off the heat. Add kevra water to flavor the kheer.
    • Garnish it with almond pieces and serve it warm.

     

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