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Lesson Transcript

Culture Class: Holidays in India Lesson 11 - Chariot Festival
Hello, and welcome to the Culture Class- Holidays in India Series at HindiPod101.com. In this series, we’re exploring the traditions behind Hindi holidays and observances. I’m Eric, and you're listening to Season 1, Lesson 11, Chariot Festival. In Hindi, it’s called Rath Yatra.
Every year a massive festival is celebrated in the middle of summer, or in Hindi Grishm Ritu in eastern India, where the Lord Jagannath is taken on a chariot ride. In this lesson, we are talking about the special festival of the Chariot Ride, celebrated for nine days during the Hindu month of Aashad. This falls in June or July on the Gregorian calendar.
Now, before we get into more detail, do you know the answer to this question-
What is the Puri Jagannath temple, the starting point of the Chariot Festival, famous for?
If you don't already know, you’ll find out a bit later. Keep listening.
The Chariot Festival involves a journey comprised of three chariots carrying the statues of Lord Jagannath, Subhadra and Balram, respectively. Lord Jagannath is a human incarnation of Lord Vishnu. In his life story, when he killed the evil king Kansa and rid the people of his tyranny, the entire city came out to greet Lord Vishnu as he paraded victoriously through town. This event is commemorated every year with his idol, in Hindi called a Moorti. Each year three new chariots are made and decorated specially out of sandalwood for the occasion.
The biggest celebrations are held in Orissa, where this is considered a huge occasion. In the city of Puri, three chariots leave the Jagannath Temple each year, and devotees pull them to the Gundicha Temple two miles away. The first chariot of Lord Balram is called Taldhwaj, and is decorated in red and blue drapes. The second chariot of Subhadra is called Dwarpdalan and is decorated in red and black fabric. The third one of Lord Jagannath is 44 feet high, stands on 16 wheels, and is called Nandi Ghosha.
After nine days, the chariots are taken back to the Jagannath Temple via the Mausi Ma Temple. At the Mausi Ma Temple, people eat special Poda Pitha sweets. Conch shells, temple bells, and the flute are played along the Yatra and millions of devotees throng the route to view the idols, yelling Jai Jagannath! meaning "Praising Lord Jagannath". This tradition was started by King Indradyumna of the Kaling Kingdom, who commissioned construction for the three idols and Lord Jagannath’s temple.
The arms of the three idols are noticeably incomplete, yet an old legend related to King Indradyumna and his sculptor explains why this is so. Through divine guidance, the King was guided to employ a certain sculptor. However, the sculptor’s only condition for creating the idols was that no one come to him, or even knock on his door for twenty-one days. The King agreed, but after hearing no noise coming from the room after fourteen days, the King grew restless and opened the door. Inside, he found the three uncompleted idols, but the sculptor was gone. Taking this as the gods’ will, the King installed the idols in their incomplete form.
Now it's time to answer our quiz question-
What is the Puri Jagannath temple, the starting point of the Chariot Festival, famous for?
Lord Vishnu is a major deity in Hinduism. There are four temples in India in the four directions dedicated to four major deities. The Lord Jagannath temple at Puri is the eastern temple of Lord Vishnu. This is the only temple where Lord Jagannath shares space with Balram and Subhadra.
How did you like this lesson? Did you learn anything interesting?
Is there a festival similar to this one in your culture as well?
Leave us a comment telling us at HindiPod101.com!
And we’ll see you in the next lesson!

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Is there a festival similar to this one in your culture as well?