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: According to Brahma Purana, in Satya Yuga, Lord Brahma wished for an idol of Lord Vishnu for his holy abode. So, following his instruction, Vishwakarma, the Lord of architecture, made a four-armed Vishnu idol. It was made of sapphire and that is why was known as Neel Madhav. Being extremely pleased, Brahma placed it on the top of Mount Sumeru.
One day, Indra, the king of heaven, came to pay a visit to Brahma. When he saw the idol, he instantly fall in love with it and begged it from Brahma. Brahma granted his wish and Indra returned back to heaven with Neel Madhav.
But in Treta Yuga, when Ravana, the Rakshasa king of Lanka, saw the idol after defeating Indra in war and conquering the heaven, he send it to his younger brother Vibhishana. In Dvapara Yuga, it is believed, Neel Maadhav got it's place in Krishna's Dvaraka. But when the town submerged in ocean after Krishna's death, Neel Madhav too had lost in vast water.
It is believed that, in Kali Yuga, ocean himself placed the idol in a cave temple of Nilagiri, the blue mountain belongs to present days Puri, Odisha. Thus, Neel Madhav, the earlier form of Jagannath, finally got a steady place of worshipping again.

 Puri used to construct total 6 chariots, two for Jagannath, two for Subhadra and two for Balabhadra. But now a days, only 3 chariots are pulled through the streets of Puri. Why?
The reason simply lies in town's geography. It is said that, in long past, a big canal, known as Balagundi Nala, existed in the route of Ratha Yatra, between Jagannath temple and Gundicha Temple. It was not possible to pull the huge chariots over the Nala. So, devotees used to pull first 3 chariots from the Jagannath temple to one side of Balagundi. After reaching there, they used to carry the idols in the time of crossing the Nala and place them in another 3 chariots. These 3 chariots were pulled to Gundicha Temple finally.
But in the year of 1282, King Keshari Narasimha of Puri, instructed his people to fill up the Nala with sand and mud. After that, a street was made over it. Since then, Puri is constructing only 3 chariots for Jagannath's Ratha Yatra festival.

Ratha-yatra, or the Festival of Chariots, is a joyous event celebrated for thousands of years in the Indian holy city of Jagannatha Puri, and more recently by Hare Krishna devotees in cities around the world. Another name for Krishna, Jagannatha refers to the ecstatic form of the Lord with large eyes and rugged features who is carried on a gigantic chariot during this festival (and worshiped in an ancient temple at the center of Jagannath Puri.)
As the story goes, Lord Krishna once overheard a conversation about how His dearest devotees, the cowherd maidens of Vrindavana, were lamenting in His absence. When He heard these accounts of overwhelming love in separation, the Lord’s hair began to stand on end, His eyes opened wide and filled with tears, and His arms and legs contracted as He went into a state of spiritual ecstasy. Seeing Lord Krishna in this condition, His elder brother, Balarama (Baladeva), also began to feel ecstatic symptoms and displayed similar features. When Their sister, Subhadra, arrived at the scene, she too became consumed with ecstatic joy. Thus the sublime deity forms of Jagannatha, Subhadra, and Baladeva represent this sweet pastime.
The festival of Ratha-yatra represents Lord Jagannatha’s longing to reunite with His dear devotees in Vrindavana, foremost among them, Srimati Radharani. According to tradition, the Lord gets lovesick once a year just prior to the festival. To cheer him up, His servants arrange for Him to go on a lavish procession to meet up with His devotees. Lord Jagannatha rides on a grand, three-story-high chariot, accompanied by thousands of onlookers and marching bands with scores of drummers, singers, and dancers. India’s colonial British rulers coined the term “juggernaut” from the large, heavy chariot used to celebrate this festival in the city of Jagannatha Puri.
Five hundred years ago, Lord Chaitanya Mahaprabhu, the combined incarnation of Radha-Krishna, encouraged all of His followers to celebrate Ratha-yatra with great enthusiasm. His biographies (such as Chaitanya Charitamrita) list many anecdotes surrounding the Ratha-yatra festival. It is said that Chaitanya Mahaprabhu got down on His hands and knees to scrub the Gundicha temple where Lord Jagannatha would stay at the end of the Ratha-yatra parade.
Srila Prabhupada, the founder of the Hare Krishna movement, was very fond of Ratha-yatra. As a child he began celebrating Ratha-yatra when he was five years old, using a small home-made cart and pulling it around the neighborhood with his friends. Later in life, from 1967 until his passing, Srila Prabhupada joined thousands of disciples in cities around the world as they celebrated elaborate Ratha-yatra chariot festivals in the streets of London, Paris, Sydney, Tokyo, San Francisco, Los Angeles, and on New York’s prestigious Fifth Avenue.
Today, Hare Krishna devotees hold Ratha-yatra parades in many cities, usually culminating in a “Festival of India” set up in a city park, with festival tents, entertainment stages, free-feast booths, and a variety of cultural displays and exhibits. Contact your nearest Hare Krishna temple to find out about Ratha-yatras in your area.
Ratha-yatra signifies the Lord’s love for His devotees. He personally comes to visit His devotees and the public who welcome Him in the streets. Befitting the sentiment of its origins, Ratha-yatras in the Hare Krishna movement also serve as reunions for devotees who come from far and wide to participate, meeting up with old friends around their common goal of serving Lord Jagannatha, Sri Krishna.

Dhunachi is an Indian incense burner (commonly used in conjunction with Indian Frankincense or "Dhuno" for traditional ceremonies) used for one of the stages during arati, or ritualized dance worship. It is often used following the arati with the pradip (a lamp with an odd number of wicks).

The dhunachi has a flared shape and is held by a stem with a large cavity at the top, and is traditionally made of earthenware. When made of brass or silver, it needs a longer handle because of the heat. It is lit by placing burning coal at the bottom, which ignites a layer of slow-burning coconut husk, on which incense (usually resin like Indian Frankincense or "Dhuno"is sprinkled.

During the Durga puja in eastern India, it is common to have dhunuchi nritya, or a frenzied dance with the censer, to the accompaniment of feverish dhak rolls. Many puja traditions also organize contests for the best dance, where some performers may go with as many as three dhunuchis - the third one held between the teeth. Dhunachi arati also known as
"dhoop arati".

The ‘khaja’ of Puri is as legendary as the Lord Himself is. Or for that matter, the beaches of the holy town are. Since the beginning of Jagannath culture, ‘khaja’, a sweet item, has found place as one of the major ‘prasad’ of the three deities of the Jagannath Temple also known as Shree Mandir. And the love of ‘khaja’ or the aura around it has not diminished one bit, despite a sea change in the likes of people in general. Rather, day by day, the craze of ‘khaja’ has grown among the local people and tourists.
Generally, two kinds of ‘prasad’ is prepared and served to the residing deities of the temple. Sankhudibhog or the cooked prasad includes a variety of rice, lentils, curries, kheer and many other preparations without using onion and garlic. Similarly, sukhilabhog or dry prasad includes different kinds of dry and sweet confectionaries like khaja, magajaladdu and a dozen of more choices.

As history has it, the sweet and crunchy ‘khaja’ prepared from refined flour and sugar used to be prepared in large quantities and distributed among the devotees after being served to Lord Jagannath and other deities.ent declaration, the State Government has granted industry status to Khaja, thus making it flexible for the entire production and procurement process of this sweet delicacy. In order to facilitate the Khaja business, this is really an amazing move on part of the Government and the decision has duly been welcomed by both the shop owners as well as the local residents. That apart, in the near future, there might also be plans for application of Geographic Indication tag for Khaja.

Rath Yatra or Chariot festival, one of the much-awaited Hindu festivals, is celebrated every year on the 2nd day of the Shukla Paksha (waxing cycle of the moon) in the month of Asadh, the 3rd month according to the lunar calendar of India. The foremost epicentre for this festival is the Jagannath Puri temple, one of the four major Hindu shrines, which is situated in the state of Odisha. Rath Yatra Puri has always been popular among tourists due to its religious connotation. They visit Puri every year and take part in the celebrations with full enthusiasm.

The festival honours the Lord Jagannath’s visit along with his siblings to the temple of Queen Gundicha. The caravan of Lord Jagannath, on the way, stops at their maternal aunt’s place – mausima temple – to take the meal of sweet pancakes, Jagannath’s favorite dish as believed. During his journey, Lord Jagannath is accompanied also by the celestial wheel called Sudarshan Chakra.

Jagannath Puri temple is called ‘Yamanika Tirtha’ where, according to the Hindu beliefs, the power of ‘Yama’, the god of death has been nullified in Puri due to the presence of Lord Jagannath, popularly known as Lord Krishna, and his siblings – lord Balbhadra and deity Shubhadra – in the Jagannath Puri temple. As many as three new splendid chariots are created for the Puri Yatra (the journey) of the Gods – Lord Jagannath and his siblings – every year. The carpenters, having rights for this job by heredity, follow century old styles, written in the holy Hindu text, for building and decorating the chariots.

Then comes the graceful day of Yatra, when these 45-feet high idols are pulled by millions of devotees came here from all over the world. The act of pulling the Rath by the ropes during Rath Yatra Puri is believed to be an extremely religious act, the belief which attracts millions of tourists from all over the world.

The day of the Rath Yatra in Puri is the only day in the whole year when the non Hindu devotees can have an opportunity to see the gods and goddess of the Jagannath Puri temple. All for the convenience of devotees, Puri Rath Yatra Festival Tour is largely organized in the country and, every year, tourists from home country or abroad take part in the Rath Yatra Tour, with full of zeal. Apart from Indian, this festival attracts a large number of international tourists in Puri. The ISKCON foundation gets the credit for taking this grand celebration to an international level.

Puri Rath Yatra 2018 is due on 14 July, Saturday. In a bid of making a huge turnover, tour operators in the country are providing a variety of packages for this much-awaited celebration in Puri. You can capitalize on this golden opportunity and have a glimpse of the legendary celebration. You can enjoy the Rath Jatra Tour as an experience for the lifetime. So don’t waste time in thinking, just go for it. Get your bookings done and see the elegance of the Puri Rath Yatra 2018.

A Shankha is a conch shell of ritual and religious importance in Hinduism and Buddhism. It is the shell of a large predatory sea snail, Turbinella pyrum, found in the Indian Ocean. In Hindu mythology, the shankha is a sacred emblem of the Hindu preserver god Vishnu.

Conch shells can be used as wind instruments. They are prepared by cutting a hole in the spire of the shell near the apex, and then blowing into the shell as if it were a trumpet, as in blowing horn. Sometimes a mouthpiece is used, but some shell trumpets are blown without one. Pitch is adjusted by moving one's hand in and out of the aperture; the deeper the hand, the lower the note.

Various species of large marine gastropod shells can be turned into "blowing shells", but some of the best-known species used are the sacred chank or shankha Turbinella pyrum, the Triton's trumpet Charonia tritonis, and the queen conch Strombus gigas.

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