Odisha: Why Rath Yatra gets observed on the next day in some princely States

In some places of Odisha, especially in the erstwhile princely states, there is a tradition of Basi Rath Yatra, which means Rath Yatra is observed on the next day of Puri Rath Yatra

Rath Yatra is observed on the day of Shree Gundicha on the second day in the month of Asadha in various places including Puri of Odisha, while in some other places of the state, especially in some princely states, the famous Rath Yatra is observed on the next day. That is called Basi (stale) Ratha Yatra. This article dwells upon the reason behind this tradition.

The development of religious institutions took place during the time of the reign of the kings at different places of Odisha. Accordingly,  Jagannath culture is closely linked to the traditions of various Royal dynasties.

Although the kingdom is still there, the king is no longer the king of the past. However, in some places, according to tradition, they are celebrating the Lord’s annual sojourn, the Rathy Yatra. Where the king could not, the people took responsibility and celebrated the car festival.

In Odisha, especially in the erstwhile princely states, there is a tradition of Basi Rath Yatra, which means Rath Yatra is observed on the next day of Puri Rath Yatra. Let us know what is the reason behind this unique tradition.

Rath Yatra is the biggest festival in Jagannath culture which has been nurtured for ages in the spirit of devotion. The Dharakote Garh, one of the most famous gadjats (princely states) of Ganjam district, has a unique tradition. Here Rath Yatra is observed on the next day of Dwitiya. Similarly, the Bahuda yatra, the return journey of Lord Jagannath and siblings is held here on the next day of Bahuda Yatra on the Ekadasi day. While normally in other places the king or chief priest is the first servant of the Lord, in Dharakot Garh women are doing all the work as servants of Raja Thakur. After the death of King Kishore Singh of Dharkot, his daughter Ms. Sulakhana Gitanjali Devi ascended the royal throne at the age of 14. After that she is executing all the rituals of the chariot during Rath Yatra. So why is Basi ratha here? It is said that the king of this place visits Puri to witness Lord Jagannath’s world famous Rath Yatra. The king returns to his State on the following day. Therefore, in his absence, the chariot is not drawn on Gundicha day. The next day the procession takes place here. In Badakhemundi area of Ganjam district also this tradition is seen.

It is said that in the year 1577 Basi Rath was held at Kujang near Paradip because during the attack of Kalapahada in Puri, the three deities were kept in Kujang for a few days. Later, when the danger was over, arrangements were made for to take back the deities to Puri. Yet, the King Kujang was reluctant to give Devi Subhadra’s idol. Accordingly, the Rath Yatra started in Kujang on the next day after Gundicha Jatra.

This kind of tradition is also witnessed in Ganjam. In Dharakot, the then king Rajendra Singh established the Jagannath temple in 1770 and started organizing Rath Yatra on the next day of Dwitiya. Also, the Bahuda Yatra observed on Ekadasi, while it is observed normally on the Dasami tithi.

In 1806, the then king of Badahemundi, Chaitanya Dev, established a temple in Digapahani and started organizing Rath Yatra. Basi Rath Yatra was also practiced here.

In 1832, Surangi king Chaitanya Chandra Deo also started the tradition of Basi Yatra after establishing a Lord Jagannath temple.

It is said that Ganjam district has the largest numbers of Lord Jagannath temples. The kings also established temples in 22 zamindaris in the district.

The prime deity of Khemundi king is Lord Jagannath. Therefore, the spread of Jagannath culture has been largely witnessed in Ganjam district.

In the temple of Jarada in Ganjam district, Lord Jagannath and Partha Sarathi are worshipped. Hence, there Rath Yatra is observed on dwitiya. It is said that one can get the same amount of virtues by witnessing Rath Yatra at Jarada with that of Rath Yatra in Puri. Therefore, devotees from many parts of the district come to see the Rath Yatra in Jarda. Accordingly, at that time the kings of Surangi, Bada Khemundi and Dharakot decided to observe Rath Yatra on the next day.

Of course, the culture researchers opine some other reason about the Basi Rath Yatra. According to their research, on the day of Gundicha, all eyes are on the Puri Rath Yatra. Hence, the crowd will be less and there will be no devotees to pull the chariots. Thus the Basi Rathayatra tradition started.

There is a proverb, “Digapahandi Jata…Pratapagiri Rath…Shergarh Mandani…Dharakot Adheni…l

Similarly, in Baripada Basi Rath tradition is seen. It is called the dwitiya Shreekhetra. Lord Jagannath is worshipped in the form of Shri Shri Haribaldev Jew here. The kings of the Bhanja dynasty organize Rath Yatra here. In Baripada, Rath Yatra is held for two days. On the first day, Lord Balabhadra’s Chariot is pulled and taken to the Mausi Maa temple. And then Devi Subhadra’s Chariot pulling starts.

As per the tradition, the chariot of Devi Subhadra is pulled by women devotees only. It is from this that the tradition of women pulling Devi Subhadra’s chariot started and spread to other places.

The temple parichha appointed by the king perform the Chhera Pahanra ritual on the chariots. In respect to Shree Khetra, Rath Yatra is held here only on the second day. Here special offerrings are offered to the Sri Vigrahas on sal leaves. And after reaching of the chariots, Shraddhalu is thrown from the chariot for the devotees.

The same tradition can be seen in Jaipur of Koraput district which was once ruled by the king. Here also Rath Yatra takes place on the next day of Shree Gundicha. Here, after the head priest of the temple performs the Chhera Panhara ritual, the evening alati is held and the devotees pull the Chariot to see the deity on the Chariot.

Basi Rath Yatra tradition is also seen in Jajpur, the old capital of Odisha. Known as Biraja Khetra, though Jajpur is not a princely state, Rath Yatra is observed here also on the next day.

There is a very old Jagannath temple near the famous Dashashwamedha Ghat in Jajpur. Every year, there is a tradition of pulling the chariot of Mahaprabhu here on the day after the Gundicha Yatra.

For the past two years, only women have been pulling the chariot of Goddess Subhadra here. The Sadabrat mutt becomes the aunt’s house during Rath Yatra here. The temple servitors take the deities from the chariots to the Mausi Maa here in Pahandi. Basi Rath Yatra is performed here in honor of Puri Rath Yatra.

However, the researchers say, King Yayati Keshari rescued the exiled Mahaprabhu during his time. He wanted to keep the deities by establishing a temple in his erstwhile capital in Jajpur. However, as per suggestion of Jagatguru Shankaracharya, Lord Jagannath and sibling deities were made to stay in Puri. However, there is a Lord Jagannath temple in Jajpur where the deities are worshipped. And in honour with Shree Khetra here also Rath Yatra gets organized on the next day of Shree Gundicha.

Also read: Goddess Tarini Observes Brata For Lord Jagannath At Ghatagan

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