The History of Ratha Yatra

Mahanidhi Madan Gopal Das

The Skanda Purana states that Ratha-yatra began a few billion years ago in Satya-yuga during the reign of Svarocisa Manu, the second of the fourteen Manus. Every year Lord Jagannatha enacts the Ratha-yatra (Mahavedi Yatra) in order to see His appearance place at the Yajna Vedi in the Gundica Mandira. (Skanda Purana 29.25-44)
In Orissa, the Ratha-yatra festival is known as Jagannatha’s journey to Gundica. Although outsiders call it Ratha-yatra, the residents of Orissa call it the Gundica Yatra in honor of Gundica Devi, King Indradyumna’s queen, who purportedly initiated this festival. The songs of many Oriyan poets state that Ratha-yatra started with the request of King Indradyumna’s wife named Gundica.
Ratha-yatra is also known as the Patita Pavana Mahotsava because non-Hindus get the opportunity to see Lord Jagannatha. This auspicious darshana cleanses all sins and grants liberation.
(An excerpt from Jagannatha Puri Guide Book)
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