Jagannath Temple - Festivals
Each year many festivals are celebrated in the temple and most important of them is the Rath Yatra in which the three main deities of the temple are carried to Gundicha Temple on three separate chariots. Some of the festivals celebrated in the temple are as follows −
Chandan Yatra is the longest festival celebrated in the temple as it takes 42 days to complete the yatra. The yatra is divided into two parts namely Bahara Chandana and Bhitara Chandana and each part is celebrated for 21 days. Bahara Chanda is the first part in which the chariots are built that will take the three deities during Rath Yatra.
In these 21 days, the idols of Lord Jagannath, Balabhadra, and Subhadra along with five Shiva Lingas are taken to the Narendra Tirtha tank. The deities are put into the boats and they swim in the tank. Bhitara Chanda is the phase carried for the last 21 days in which the rituals are carried inside the temple.
Snana Yatra is celebrated on the full moon day of the Jyeshtha month as this is the birthday of Lord Jagannath. On this day, Lord Jagannath, Balabhadra, Subhadra, Madamohan, and Sudarshan are taken to Snana Bedi in a procession and bathed while performing different rituals.
These rituals are performed on the basis of a description made in the Skanda Purana which states that the rituals were arranged by King Indradyumna when the three deities were first installed. The devotees believe that on visiting the deities on this day clean all their sins.
Anavasara or Ansara is celebrated after the snana yatra in which the deities are taken to Anavasara Ghar where they rest for 15 days. In these days, the devotees can go to Brahmagiri to see Alernath which a four handed deity and a form of Lord Vishnu. These 15 days are the resting period of main deities and devotees are not allowed to see them. Cooked food is also not offered to the deities.
Rath Yatra of Puri is very famous and is conducted either in the month of June or July. In this yatra, Lord Jagannath, Balabhadra, and Subhadra were brought outside and kept in three separate chariots. Then they are taken to Gundicha Temple. Every year new chariots are built having wooden wheels. These chariots are pulled by the devotees.
Chhera Pahara is the most important ritual of this yatra in which the Gajapati king wears the dress of a sweeper and sweeps around the chariots. The road is cleaned with a gold-handled broom and sandalwood water and powder is sprinkled. The ritual is carried on for two days. On the first day it is performed when the deities are brought to Mausi Maa Temple and secondly when they are brought to the Jagannath Temple.
Gupta Gundicha is celebrated 16 days before the Vijayadashmi. In this festival, idol of Madhaba and Goddess Durga tour the temple premises for first eight days. In the next eight days, they are brought to Narayani Temple and worshipped here. Then they are brought back to the Gundicha temple after eight days.
Nava Kalevara is celebrated when the lunar month of Ashadha is followed by another month of Ashadha which happens at a difference of 8, 12, or 18 years. In this festival, the old idols are buried and new idols are installed. Large number of devotees attend this festival.