Rukuna Rath Yatra at Lord Lingaraj Temple
The famous Rukuna Rath yatra of Lord Lingaraj was observed here on Monday on the occasion of Ashokastami with pomp and gaiety. Thousands of devotees gathered near the 11th century shrine to pull the chariot.
The four-wheeled, 35-ft wooden chariot rolls from the 11th century shrine to Mausima temple as it is pulled by thousands of devotees. As per the local administration, over one lakh devotees joined to witness the divine show. The devotees’ turnout goes up as the mercury falls and the city gets splashed with mild shower.
The uniqueness of Rukuna Rath is it never “takes a turn” like the chariots of Lord Jagannath, Lord Balabhadra and Devi Subhadra in Puri. When this chariot returns after a five-day sojourn at Mausima temple, the chariot is drawn from behind.
As per the tradition, bronze statues of three deities Chandrashekhar, Rukmini and Basudev have been brought to the chariot which is 35-feet high with four wheels. The Rukuna Rath is also called ‘analeuta’ chariot (the chariot that does not take a turn during the return car festival).
Going by the convention, the Rukuna Rath is pulled from backside without being turned. The sitting altar of the deities is changed on the day of homecoming. For the Yatra, a special Puja began on last mid-night midnight with the auction of Lord Lingaraj’s Marichikunda Paani. It is believed that if barren women take bath with the water they would be blessed with children .
Rukuna Rath Yatra of Lord Lingaraj, a unique festival of its style celebrated annually in Bhubaneswar !. The Chariot Festival of Lord Lingaraja is celebrated at Bhubaneswar on the day of Ashokastami.
The festival takes place on the 8th day of the wane in the month of Chaitra (March-April) the day preceding Ramanavami. On the day of Ashokastami three deities i.e. Chandrasekhar (the representative of lord Lingaraja), Rukmini & Basudeva are ceremonially brought to ascend chariot. Then the chariot is drawn to Rameswara temple and remained there for four days called Gundicha Ghar. During their stay at Gundicha Ghar; in a striking resemblance to the chariot festival at Puri.
Parvati comes on the 3rd day to express her indignation, as she was not made to accompany her consort Lord Lingaraja in the Chariot. She then breaks a portion of the Chariot and returns back to the temple. On the fifth day, the three deities start the return journey called Bahuda. While returning the Chariot is drawn to the temple from the backside without having any turn (The Chariot does not take a turn. The altar of the deities is only changed). Hence, the saying in Odia is Rukuna Ratha Analeuta i.e. the chariot of Rukuna or Rukmini (Rukmini and Basudeva also sat in the Chariot along with Chandra Sekhar) never turns back !.