Mahanavami - Culmination of Navaratri

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The ‘Ratha Yatra’ or Car Festival of Lord Jagannath takes place once a year at Neelachal Srikshetra in Puri, Orissa on the second day of the month of ‘Asadha’ (June/July). During the festival the Lords are consigned exclusively to the care of the non-Brahmin ‘Sevayats’, particularly of aboriginal ‘Savara’ origin. Radiantly decorated wooden chariots called ‘Nandighosa’, ‘Taladhwaja’ and ‘Devadalana’ respectively with Lords Jagannath (Krishna), Balabhadra and their sister Subhadra leave the ‘sanctum sanctorum’ of the Sri Mandir, pulled by millions of people. Of the three chariots, the one of Balabhadra moves first, followed by those of Subhadra and Jagannath. The procession ultimately reaches the Shri Gundicha Temple, where the deities sojourn for a week. The return journey, ‘Bahuda Yatra’, takes place on the ninth day or ‘Asadha Sukla Dasami’. According to the Sanskrit literary sources the Car Festival was in vogue in the 9th century even before the present Puri temple was constructed.    

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