Rath Yatra: History, significance, all you need to know about Lord Jagannath's chariot festival
Photo Credit: PTI

Decks were cleared for holding the historic Lord Jagannath Rath Yatra at Puri on Tuesday after the Supreme Court modified its stay order and permitted the festivities without any public attendance, besides directing other precautions in view of the coronavirus pandemic.

Each of three raths or chariots would be pulled by no more than 500 people who will be tested for coronavirus, a bench headed by Chief Justice S A Bobde said on Monday after the Centre and the Odisha government-supported holding the Yatra without any mass congregation stressing it is a "matter of faith for crores".

History and Significance:

The Rath Yatra is dedicated to Lord Jagannath, his elder brother Lord Balabhadra and his sister Goddess Subhadra. The Rath Yatra celebrates the annual journey of Lord Jagannath and his two siblings from the 12th-century Jagannath Temple to Gundicha Temple, 2.5km away.

Three heavily-built wooden chariots of Lord Jagannath, Lord Balabhadra and Devi Subhadra are traditionally pulled by thousands of devotees over a distance of three kilometres twice during the nine-day festival of the Trinity at Puri. This year the congregations would have been held on June 23 and July 1. After resting for eight days, Lord Jagannath returns to his main abode and is known as ‘Bahuda Yatra’.

Lord Jagannath's Rath, Nandighosha (also known as Garudadhwaja, Kapiladhwaja) is about 44 feet tall and has 16 wheels. Balbhadra's chariot is called Taladhwaja or Langaladhwaja, and it stands 43 feet in height and has 14 wheels. While Subhadra's chariot has 12 wheels and it is 42 feet tall.

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