Chandan Yatra is a very popular religious festival celebrated in the May-June in honour of Lord Jagannath
. The festival marks the close of the cycle of religious festivals. The festival of Chandan Yatra commences during the Akshyaya Tritiya and continues for twenty-one days. The festival is celebrated with much enthusiasm in the temple premises of Lord Jagannath.
The name of the festival, Chandan Yatra is quite symbolic as sandal paste popularly known as chandan and water are its inseparable constituents. The festival is celebrated in the month of Baisakhi
. It is a time when the summer is at its peak and sandal paste and water are essential for cooling purpose.
Ritual of Chandan Yatra
During the Chandan Yatra, the deities are taken out of the temples in a procession for a holy patrol in water on floats or boats. It is believed that all the ceremonies of the land must be culminated with an aquatic sojourn for a deity. The floats of the deities are beautifully decorated and are called `Chapa`. In most of the Lord Vishnu and Lord Shiva
temples, the `float` festival is regarded as the conclusion of the chief annual festival. Hence this festival is celebrated with a great pomp and show.
Thousands of pilgrims flock the land of Lord Jagannath
to be a part of the festival. During the festival, the road leading from the Lord`s shrine till Narendra Sarobar which is a sacred tank in the Puri
town is tastefully decorated. Arches are erected in front of monasteries and at cross-roads, as the idols take casual rest here and receive offerings.
Devotees who gather during the festival of Chandan Yatra carry decorated representative idols of Lord Jagannath, Laxmi and Saraswati
to the Narendra Sarobar at night in richly decorated palanquins. They are also accompanied by priests, musicians and dancers. The devotees wait for the arrival of the Lord and upon his arrival they place the idols on the decorated boats. The sevakas then row the boats for a long time and on the other hand the temple dancers dance and sing on the boat during the rowing.
The boats that carry the idols are usually red and white in color. They are designed in a way that they resemble huge swans floating on water. During this festival Madanmohana along with Laxmi and Saraswati rides on the white colored raft whereas Ramakrishna with Pancha Shivas ride the red boat. The boat rides continue uptill early morning and then are taken back to the temple premises. This procedure is followed during the entire festival. Bhaunri is the last day of the festival.
The Chandan Yatra festival is also followed in some other parts of the state as well with much festivity and celebrations.