Rukuna Ratha Jatra – Why this Ratha Jatra of Lord Lingraj – History Behind Lingaraj’s Rath Jatra #Odisha #Rukuna #RathJatra #LingrajTemple – Article by Taranisen Pattnaik
Rukuna Ratha Jatra – Ligaraj Ratha Jatra ;-
Lord Lingaraj’s famous Rukuna Rath Yatra falls on Ashokastami Day on 14th April 2016. Accordingly, log woods are arranged from Nayagarh/Daspalla jungles & chariot making work starts around 30 days before Rath Yatra.
Led by Chief Servitor Batakrushna Maharana, around 42 carpenters (maharanas) & attendants from various places like Kakarudrapur, Kakatpur, Raghurajpur,Jatni etc joins hand with local artisans & work full time to create the chariot before the deadline of 13th April.
Question here might arise that why Rath Jatra for Lord Lingaraj & in what way its different from Puri Rath Jatra. The basic difference lies in the name itself – Rukuna/Analeuta Rath i.e the chariot which never takes any turn during the entire journey, even during return journey. Rather, the direction of altars of the gods is changed and the chariot is pulled from the backside. The return journey after four days of retreat at Rameswar temple is called Swarnadri Bije. The chariot festival is observed on Chaitra Shukla Paksha Ashtami.
Both new & used logwoods are used in making a single chariot of around 35ft high with four wheels in which the chalanti pratimas (living representatives in bronze) of Chandrashekhar, Rukmini and Basudev are driven in grand procession. The rath is draped in yellow, red, white and blue cloth.
Mythology says when the demon Tripurasura created nuisance on earth, the gods made a special chariot (Rukuna) and offered it to Lord Shiva to kill the evil power. He was accompanied by goddess Shakti or Rukmini.
Its said that Lingaraj’s (11th century) Rath Yatra is older than Puri Jagannath’s (12th century) Rath Yatra. Another theory says that since Lord Lingaraj is Hari-Hara, a fused form of Lord Vishnu (Hari) & Shiva (Hara), hence Rath Yatra is symbolically celebrated to match with Jagannath temple.
Kindly note that Lingaraj temple was build by Somvamshi dynasty (Shaivite)which later on got influenced by Eastern Ganga dynasty rulers (Vaishnavite) & certain changes were made to the temple architecture & worshipping & concept of Hari-Hara (oneness of all existence) was introduced.
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 !.
Article & Photo: Taranisen Pattnaik