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Window Seat: Rath Yatra

26/06/2022 at 7:37 AM

The word ‘Rath-Yatra’ is a combination of two Sanskrit words, Ratha, which means chariot or carriage, and Yatrawhich means journey or pilgrimage. RathaYatra is a journey in a chariot accompanied by the public. It typically refers to a procession (journey) of deities, people dressed like deities, or simply religious saints. The term appears in the Puranas, which mention the chariot journey of several Gods and Goddesses like Surya (Sun God) and Prithvi (Mother Goddess).

Symbolically Rath Yatra is also seen as the journey of life undertaken to achieve Moksha. In the Katha Upanishad (1:3:3:4) ratha is a symbolical representation of a body, and the yatra is the path undertaken in every birth. The body (shareera) undertakes the journey (yatra) in its every birth to reach the final destination (moksha); and the yatra is known as RathYatra.

In real life these chariot journeys have elaborate celebrations where the individuals or the deities come out of a temple accompanied by the public journeying with them through the Ksetra (region, streets) to another temple or to the river or the sea. Sometimes the festivities include returning to the temple.

The biggest RathYatra in India is held at Puri, Odisha.This annual festival is celebrated on AshadhaShuklaPakshaDwitiya (second day in bright fortnight of Ashadha month) preceding and followed by elaborate rituals.

Well-known travel, heritage and history writer MonideepaDey writes: Besides the various mentions of this rathayatra in the Puranas, the earliest literary evidence in Odisha of therathayatra at Puri is from a 10th-11th century CE drama written during the rule of the Somavamshi dynasty, which talks of the yatra of Lord Purusottama (Jagannatha) near the sea shore. The earliest iconographical evidence of this rathayatra is from the Ganga dynasty era (13th-14th century CE), where a frieze from a temple at Dhanmandal in north Odisha depicts the three rathas, each drawn by many devotees.

Historians say that the association of the Odishan kings with the Jagannath deva became close-knit after king Anangabhima III made Sri Jagannatha as the state deity of Odisha in 1230 CE, and the kings became representative rulers under the deity. ChheraPahanaraceremony during the RathYatra in which the Gajapati Maharaja (the King) sweeps the chariot with a broom is a symbolic representation of this concept which posits the king as a servitor of the Lord. The ceremony is still held even if the monarchical system has long been abolished.

RathYatra of Lord Jagannathis held in several parts of the country and abroad. The one in Mahesh in West Bengal is said to be the second oldest of such chariot journey of Lord Jagannath and His siblings. RathYatra is also held in a grand way in Ahmedabad, Gujarat.

Bankim Chandra Chattopadhay

Bankim Chandra Chattopadhay whose 184th birth anniversary falls on 26 or 27 June is widely revered for the song ‘VandeMaataram’ (bow to thee, Mother) which became a mantra of the freedom fighters during freedom movement. He wrote this poem in 1870s, and included it in his Bengali novel Anandamath, which was published in 1882. The poem was first sung in a political context by Rabindranath Tagore in the 1896 session of the Indian National Congress.It became a popular marching song for Indian freedom movement. The Constituent Assembly of India  adopted “VandeMataram” as national song on 24 January 1950. However the Constitution of India does not have any mention of “national song”.

Bankim Chandra was one of the great novelists and poets of India. He is credited to have given a modern shape to Bengali novel writing. He is also the first Indian to have written a novel in English: Rajmohan’swife,first published in serialised form in 1864. He also wrote essays, satiric pieces, also books on spiritualism.

Bankim Chandra was born in 1838 in the village Kantalpara of the 24 Paraganas District of Bengal. His father Yadav Chandra Chattopadhyayaserved as Deputy Collector.Bankim Chandra had his early education in Midnapur and at Mohsin College at Hoogly. He was interested in the study of Sanskrit, which stood him in good stead later as a writer. In 1856, he  joined the Presidency College in Calcutta and passed his B.A. Examination in 1859 and appointed as Deputy Collector in the same year. He was in Government service for thirty-two years and retired in 1891. He was a very conscientious worker and took several decisions favouring the interest of common men.

Bankim Chandra began his literary career as a writer of verse. He then turned to fiction. He wrote 14 novels. Durgeshnandini, his first Bengali romance, was published in 1865. His famous novels include Kapalkundala (1866), Mrinalini (1869), Vishbriksha (1873), Chandrasekhar (1877), Rajani (1877), Rajsimha (1881), Anand Math (1882) and Devi Chaudhurani (1884).

Joke

Not many people know that 1 July is celebrated as International Joke Day. It seems to have officially begun in the United States, a country that loves to eventivise practically everything possible.

Jokes have likely been told since man first looked at himself in a pool of water and passed judgment on his own complexion. Jokes- a permutation combination of humour, banter, ridicule, wit and quip- put in a narrative have been there in the art and culture of all major civilization, including in India. 

However, the first joke is often attributed to the Greeks, specifically Palamedes, who is also credited with the invention of many other things. An example of an ancient Greek joke-telling reads thus:

“A barber, a bald man and an absent-minded professor take a journey together. They have to camp overnight, and so decide to take turns watching the luggage. When it’s the barber’s turn, he gets bored, so amuses himself by shaving the head of the professor. When the professor is woken up for his shift, he feels his head, and says “How stupid is that barber? He’s woken up the bald man instead of me.”

About the Author:

Journalist turned media academician Mrinal Chatterjee lives in Dhenkanal, Odisha. He also writes fiction and plays.

He can be reached at [email protected]

DISCLAIMER

This is the personal opinion of the author. The views expressed in this write up have nothing to do with those of prameyanews.com

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