During the festive days all routine activity in the town comes to a stands still. The temple kitchen - the largest in the world - serves more than 75 quintals of rice everyday and a variety of dishes are prepared, offered to the gods and later distributed as Mahaprashad to the devotees. According to tradition and folklore the origin of the Jagannath cult is tribal where the god was symbolized as a log of wood signifying growth, procreation and tolerance. The Vedic period saw him emerge with a wooden stump-like structure for a body and large round eyes representing the sun and the moon -the ultimate sources of life and light. Even today the mystique of Jagannath lies in its shape. It is portrayed as a stumpy body with large prominent eyes on a shield-like face.
There is an interesting story about how Jagannath came about this shape. The image of Lord Jagannath is said to have been created by Vishwakarma himself. Commissioned by lord Vishnu to create this idol Vishwakarma promised he would dazzle the gods by his creation but only if he was able to work alone unseen.
Many months passed. Getting impatient lord Vishnu forced open the doors. The image was ready but the arms were incomplete. Even today Lord Jagannath stands in the temple with two stumps for arms.
Since the portals of the Jagannath temple allow entry only to Hindus, one of the gods, Maitri Devta who stands for universal brotherhood steps outside so people of all religions and castes can pay obeisance. A spiritual ambience pervades the whole scene as the bells chime, the conches blow and the saffron robed sadhus dance with abandon. It is fascinating to watch the delirious masses paying homage to the Lord as the chariots move on almost as if propelled by a divine force.
Rath Yatra Jagannath Puri Date 2019
Rath Yatra for the year 2019 on Thursday, July 4