Ratha Yatra, the ancient annual festival of the chariot journey by Lord Jagannatha, the presiding deity of the great temple Srimandira at Puri, is one of the grandest spectacles on earth. Jagannatha along with siblings Balabhadra and Subhadra ride three colourful chariots in their annual sojourn to their garden house and birthplace Gundicha Temple where they stay for seven days before returning. RathaYatra is rooted in ancient traditions, myths and legends and embodies the most colourful elements of the classical and folk cultures of the Indian subcontinent and the Odisha region.
This book is a comprehensive account of Ratha Yatra, a socio-cultural and religious event and phenomenon unique in the entire world. It provides the background on the syncretic faith represented by Jagannatha, his origin and strong links with the heritage of aboriginal tribes and an account of the Naba Kalebara ceremonies, celebrating the periodic renewal of the bodies of the presiding deities, most recently held in 2015.
Rich in detail, the book covers a wide span including the sacred geography of Puri, legends surrounding the temple, the unique architectural style of the temple complex, the elaborate preparatory summer festivals leading up to the main festival and the process of making the chariots. It brings alive every stage of the intricate rituals and ceremonies lasting almost two months, giving a complete portrayal of different phases of the festival.