Lord Jagannath comes out of his temple to embark on a journey to his Aunt’s house every year during the most loved Odia festival Rath Yatra. The sibling trio leaves the Srimandir for the Gundicha temple for a nine day sojourn. A series of events and rituals revolving around the deities is held in the run up to the Rath Yatra, also known as the Gundicha Yatra.
Akshay Tritiya: The logs for Rath building are first cut on this auspicious day with the permission garland or agyan mala of Lord Jagannath. All the while, starting from Akshay Tritiya, the chariot construction goes on simultaneously with temple rituals till Rath Yatra. The three chariots Nandighosha of Lord Jagannath, Taladhwaja of Lord Balabhadra and Debadalana of Goddess Subhadra are constructed by three separate teams of Maharanas or hereditary carpenters of the temple. Nandighosha is 45.6 feet high with 18 wheels while Taladhwaja is 45 feet high with 16 wheels and Debadalana is 44.6 feet high with 14 wheels.
Snana Yatra: The Snana Yatra hosted on the Debasnana Purnima is the grand divine bath given to the deities of the Shree Jagannath Temple on the bathing altar or Snana Bedi inside the temple premises. Lord Balabadra, Lord Jagannath and Goddess Subhadra. This is the precursor to Rath Yatra since the deities fall sick after the bath and hibernate to recuperate at a secret place known as the anasara period.
Netra Utsav: The day when the deities of Shree Jagannath temple are brought back to the sanctum after their ailment is cured. This is the eve of Rath Yatra when the deities get ready for their vacation to completely recover from their sickness.
Rath Yatra: The Trinity of Jagannath temple visit their aunt Gundicha’s house or the Gundicha temple seated on their chariots pulled by a sea of devotees. The colourful grand procession is a divine sight. They halt midway for ‘poda pitha’ at Mausi Maa temple and reach their destination by evening.
Hera Panchami: Hosted on the fifth day of Rath Yatra festival, Hera Panchami highlights the role of Goddess Laxmi. The representative idol (chalanti pratima) of Subarna Mahalaxmi is carried to Gundicha temple where Lord Jagannath and sibling deities are lodged for their nine day vacation. The Goddess pays a visit to the Trinity.
Bahuda Yatra: The return of the deities to Srimandir is hosted on this day when the chariots roll back. The procession is similar to Rath Yatra when the deities climb their grand chariots again.
Suna Besha: After reaching the Shree Jagannath temple, the deities remain seated on their chariots to give darshan to devotees. Next day, the deities adorn lavish gold ornaments to deck up in their golden avatar or Suna Besha on the chariots.
Niladri Bije: This is the concluding episode of Rath Yatra festival wherein the deities are escorted back to their sanctum marking the end of the deities’ vacation.