In News:  The festival was recently organised at Puri,Odisha. 

About the Festival:

  • Popularly known as the ‘Festival of Chariots’.
  • The festival is dedicated to Lord Jagannath (Avtar of Vishnu), his sister Goddess Subhadra and elder brother Balabhadra.
  • It is celebrated during the month of Asadha (Rainy Season of Odisha, usually falling in month of June or July).
  • All the three deities of the temple – Jagannath, Subhadra and Balabhadra – travel in three different chariots during this festival. 
  • The chariots are called Nandighosha, Taladhwaja, and Devadalana respectively.
  • The Ratha-Yatra is also termed as the Shri Gundicha jatra.
  • New chariots for all the three deities are constructed every year using wood even if the architect of the chariots remain similar
  • Four wooden horses are attached to each chariot.
  • The most significant ritual associated with the Rath-jatra is the chhera pahara
    • In this the Gajapati King ( A medieval era ruler of Odisha)  wears the outfit of a sweeper and sweeps all around the deities and chariots in the Chera Pahara (sweeping with water) ritual. 
    • The Gajapati King cleanses the road before the chariots with a gold-handled broom and sprinkles sandalwood water and powder with utmost devotion. 

This ritual signified that under the lordship of Jagannath, there is no distinction between the powerful sovereign Gajapati King and the most humble devotee.