Ratha Yatra: Chariot Festival of Sri Jagannatha in Puri
Author: Subas Pani
Publisher: Niyogi Books, New Delhi
(Pp 240, ISBN 978-93-85285-56-1, Rs 1,995)
Ratha Yatra, the ancient annual festival of the chariot journey by Lord Jagannatha, the presiding deity of the great temple Srimandira at Puri, is one of the grandest spectacles on earth. Jagannatha along with siblings Balabhadra and Subhadra ride three colourful chariots in their annual sojourn to their garden house and birthplace Gundicha Temple where they stay for seven days before returning. Ratha Yatra is rooted in ancient traditions, myths and legends and embodies the most colourful elements of the classical and folk cultures of the Indian subcontinent and the Odisha region.
This book is a comprehensive account of Ratha Yatra, which is a unique event in the entire world. Rich in detail, the book covers a wide span including the sacred geography of Puri, legends surrounding the temple, the unique architectural style of the temple complex, the elaborate preparatory summer festivals leading up to the main festival and the process of making the chariots. It brings alive every stage of the intricate rituals and ceremonies lasting almost two months, giving a complete portrayal of different phases of the festival. With around 250 pictures, the book is a treat for the eyes.