Perhaps there is no other festival which is recognized and celebrated all over the world as Ratha Yatra. Each year such festival enthralls the devotees around the world. Though this festival is now celebrated in various places of the country and in abroad, the main Rath Yatra takes place in the holy town of Puri. At other places, devotees, who cannot make it to Puri, took out similar processions on a much smaller scale.
But can you imagine that there is a Rath Yatra, once upon a time the heights of the Rathas were four times longer than the height of today’s Puri Ratha. In this context, Rath Yatra in undivided Puri district was of much significance. Yes, that was Ranpur Rath Yatra, which was the second Rath Yatra after Puri (Ranpur is now under Nayagarh district after this district was bifurcated from Puri district). As per legend, from Jagannath’s sohal (16) kalas, one kala was brought to Ranpur- the oldest dynasty among all the 24 ex-feudal states of Odisha. As per historian Satyabadi Baliarsingh’s research, Rath Yatra was started in Ranpur during 1727-1754 AD.
At that time Sharangdhar Singh Bajradhar Narendra Mahapatra was the ruler of Ranpur. On his direction, five rathas were constructed, namely Jagannath, Balabhadra, Subhadra, Krupanidhandeb and Gopinathdeb. During the period of King Brajasundar Singh Narendra Mahapatra (1821-1842 AD), the heights of these Rathas were made four times longer than the height of today’s Puri Ratha. Interestingly, in Ranpur there is a Jagannath temple like Shreemandir (though smaller than from Shreemandir). Apart from the temple, there is a Gundicha temple, a badadanda, a sagar (big pond) and sahis having the same name alike Puri.
The sacred Narendra temple of Puri where Chandan Yatra of Lord Jagannath is being observed; was built by Padmanav Narendra, a ruler of Ranpur. As his title is Narendra, the temple named after him. All rituals of Puri as well as the 13 festivals in 12 months were also observed there. The rituals Snana Ustab, Hatibesha, Anasarseba, and Pattipuja were performed here with profound devotion. The King of Ranpur performs the Chhera Panhara in the Ratha.
(The author is a distinguished writer now working as a Producer in News Channel.)