Rath Yatra festival of Jagannath Dev in Sampriti’s Bangladesh


Rath Yatra is the most colorful festival of Sanatan Dharma followers after Sharadiya Durgotsava and Shri Krishna’s auspicious Janmashtami. Since the peaceful coexistence of all religions was ensured during the government led by Bangabandhu’s daughter statesman Sheikh Hasina, the organization, scope and spontaneity of the festival increased manifold. As Rath Yatra festival spread at the upazila level, Sampriti is an expression of the non-communal spirit of Bengalis in Bangladesh.

‘Ratha Yatra, Lokaranya, great fanfare,
Devotees bow down on the way.
By the way I will give the chariot.
I will give it as a statue – smiles inwardly.’

Many of us do not know the significance of poet Rabindranath Tagore’s famous lines about Rath Yatra. What is the history of Rath Yatra, how did this chariot come? Who started this wonderful sacrifice! Different people have different opinions and information about this.

Kathapanishad mentions-
‘Atmanang rathinang vidhi syarang rathmeb tu.
Buddhing tu sarthing viddhi man: pragrahmeva f..’ (1/3/3)

It means – ‘This body is the chariot and the soul is the body of the chariot. And God lives in the heart. It means that God lives in our hearts. He has no form. He is victorious everywhere.’

According to the scriptures, therefore, the human body is the chariot and God is its charioteer. By darshan of the Supreme Lord Sri Jagannath, it is possible to get rid of the bondage of birth and death and illusion of this material world. Traditional religious people have been celebrating Rath Yatra festival keeping this belief. Rath Yatra today has become one of the religious festivals and an integral part of Bengali culture for Sanatan devotees.

The festival is organized every year on the second tithi of Shukla Paksha of Ashad month. The center of this festival is at the main temple of Jagannath Dev in Puri, Odisha state. This festival is being celebrated in many countries of the world apart from India, Bangladesh.

Rath Yatra refers to the Gundicha Yatra from the temple of Jagannathdev in Puri to the aunt’s house, with the Sanatana Dharmavalambis (Hindu followers) holding three decorated images of deities Jagannath, Balarama and Subodhra.

Millions of people from all over the world come to Puri to see this Rath Yatra. The Rath Yatra begins with a visit to the Gundicha Temple of Jagannath, Balaram and Subhadra, reputed to be the house of Jagannathdev’s aunt. After eating ponga pitha from aunt’s house for seven days and returning back home which is known as Ulto Rath, the festival ends.

To know how, and when, Jagannathdeva’s chariot procession began, we have to go back to King Indradyumna of Malavadesh, now known as Orissa. Because the Rath Yatra started with the hand of this king.

According to the description and information of the Padma Purana, the Rath Yatra was started by this king. At that time, King Indradyumna of Malavadesh was a devotee of Sri Vishnu. He built a holy temple called Jagannathdham or Srikshetra. There was no idol in this temple. One day a monk came to the palace. Satisfied with the king’s service, he told him that Neelamadhav (another form of Lord Vishnu) should be secretly worshiped through shabars. Shabars lived on the edge of the blue mountain. Hearing the words of the monk, the king was anxious to see Nilamadhav. Then he sent for his priest brother Vidyapati and told him to go to the land of Shabars and find the idol of Nilamadhav.

Obeying the king’s orders, Vidyapati went to Shabarraj Vishwavasu. Once there in the middle of the forest Vidyapati forgot the path. Then he was rescued by Lalita, the daughter of Vishwavasu. By chance, Vidyapati fell in love with Lalitha. Then the king married them both. But the thought of Nilamadhav’s vision was still swirling in Vidyapati’s head. Through much persuasion he convinced Lalita to visit Neelamadhav. But Lalita’s condition was that she would take Vidyapati blindfolded. Vidyapati went blindfolded but took the grain of barley with him.

On the way, he threw the grains on the way in the absence of Lalita as a sign. Vidyapati was blessed by going to the Blue Mountain and seeing Nilamadhav. After this he sent news to King Indradyumna. The king came with his chariot, army to take Nilamadhav. But understanding Srihari’s Leela is a big responsibility.

The king reached and found that there was no idol of Nilamadhav in the temple. Although there are different opinions on this, where it is said that Neel Madhava got absorbed by himself, while others say that Shabars hid Neelmadhava’s idol. Indradyumna was disappointed not to see Neelamadhav after coming so far and decided not to live this life. Just at this time, the divine message is heard from the sky –

‘Darubrahma wood will float in the water of the sea, and the idol will be made from that wood’ (i.e. the idol of Nilamadhav).

Then the king returned to his own kingdom. Suddenly one night the king saw in a dream, Lord Shri Hari saying to him – ‘I am coming to you floating in the sea. You will find me in the form of Darubrahma at a place called Bankimuhan in Puri.’

The king woke up in the morning and went to that place and found a piece of wood. The wood could not be moved even with an army of elephants. Then the news of Sri Hari’s dream was sent to Shabarraj Vishwavasu. After his arrival, Vidyapati, Raja and Vishwavasu brought the piece of wood to the king’s palace. But the surprising thing is that no one in that state had the power to carve that wood.

It was not possible to hammer or carve. Breaking again and again. The king was again lost in thought. Just then a carpenter named Ananta Maharana came to him. According to many, Srihari himself came as a carpenter and many others say that Vishwakarma came on the orders of God.

He said that he will carve this wood and make an idol of Blue Madhav. But one of his conditions is that no one will enter this temple within 21 days until his carving work is completed. The king agreed and went. Pahara sat at the door. But Indradyumna’s queen Gundicha blocked the obstacle. He could not wait any longer, he entered the temple after 14 days before the work was completed. Entering the temple, he saw a strange sight. There are no carpenters, seeing the idols of Jagannath, Balabhadra and Subhadra Devi in ​​incomplete condition, Rani plays Virmi. A statue! The queen’s head began to spin after seeing the round eyes, handsless, dark cloud-like complexion of the blue-haired Sri Vishnu.

The king heard and came running. Rani got angry and said that the carpenter had left the work incomplete due to breach of condition. The king got angry. But why would God bear the pain of devotees? That night, the king saw him again in his dream. He told him that he will be worshiped in this form. It has no shape or form of its own. To him, he is exactly what the devotees imagine him to be. He told King Indradyumna that he would worship in this imperfect state and that he was placed in Purushottam Dham as if and there he would worship.

And this is how Jagannath Dev was established. Regarding this form of Jagannath Dev, the third chapter of Krishna Yajurvedya Shvetasvatara Upanishad says-
‘Apanipado jabano receiver
Western eye: S Srinnotyakarn:.
Sa betti bedyang na cha tasyasti betta
Tamahurgryong Purushang Mahantam..’

That is, He has no earthly hands, but He receives all things. He has no post, but walks everywhere. He has no eyes, but sees everything. No ears, but hears everything. It is difficult to know him, he is the progenitor of the world. This dwarf god is Vishwatma, He has no form, no size. Jagannathdeva of Puri is the symbol of this description of the Upanishads. It was not possible to make his entire idol, because man is incapable of making his form. Only symbols are shown.

Prajapati Brahma established Prana in the Jagannath temple. This is the story about the history of Rath Yatra.

The main festival of Jagannath is Rath Yatra. According to the Puranas, on the 2nd tithi of the month of Asadha, Jagannath-Subhadra-Balram, the wife of King Indradyumna, rode to Gundichar’s house, which is called Jagannath’s ‘aunt’s house’, and returned to her temple after seven days. The movement and movement of chariots are called (straight) chariots and (inverted) chariots.

Rath Yatra started in Bengal following Jagannath Dev’s Rath Yatra of Puri. Caitanya Mahaprabhu brought this style to Bangladesh from Nilachal. Chaitanya devotee Vaishnavas practiced Rath Yatra on the model of Puri in Bengal. About the greatness of Rath Yatra, the scriptures say- ‘Rathastha bamanang drishta punarjanma na vidyate.’ That is, the Rath Yatra festival of Sri Sri Jagannath Dev will begin on July 7 in a joyous atmosphere with various religious programs including Baman Yajna seated on the chariot. The festival will end with a colorful procession of upside-down chariots for seven days.

International Krishna Bhavanamrit Sangh (ISCON) has organized an eight-day program in Dhaka on the occasion of the auspicious Rath Yatra. The program includes Harinam Sankirtan, Agnihotra Yajna for world peace and prosperity, distribution of Mahaprasad, discussion meeting, procession, Padbali Kirtan, Aarti Kirtan, Bhagavad Katha, cultural program, reading of Srimad Bhagavat Gita, screening of religious films and staging of religious plays. On July 7, the Rath Yatra ceremony started with the Agnihotra Yajna for world peace and prosperity at ISKCON Ashram.

Rath Yatra is known by different names. Jagannath Dev’s Rath Yatra takes place from the temple of Jagannath Dev in Puri. Rath Yatra is also a sacred festival of Hindus in Bangladesh. In Dhaka’s Dhamrai, it is known as Yasomadhava’s Rath Yatra. Rath Yatra of Manikyamadhava at Joydevpur in Gazipur. The Rath Yatra of Jasomadhava of the Indian state of Odisha and the Rath Yatra of Jagannath Dev of Mahesh are also famous in the subcontinent. Rath Yatra is widely practiced in the eastern states of India.

Apart from this, Rath Yatra will also take place from Jagannath Jiu Tagore Temple, Jayakali Temple in Tantibazar, Old Dhaka, Bangladesh. Rath Yatra festival of Jagannath Dev will be celebrated across the country to wish for world peace and prosperity.

Data Source – Padma Purana

Author: Information and Technology Affairs Secretary of Bangladesh Puja Celebration Parishad Central Committee and Executive Member of Bangladesh Awami Jubo League Central Committee.

HR/MS