Rituals before the Ratha Yatra Begins
When the deities are installed in their respective Rathas,the following rituals are observed on the eve of commencement of the journey.
(i) Chaka Apasaras - Circular cushions are provided to the deities
(ii) Proxy divinities - Madanamohana and Ramakrishna are brought from the temple and placed in Nandighosha and Taladhwaja respectively
(iii) Two big chests containing provisions, raiment and other necessary articles for use of the deities during the journey and sojourn, are kept in the chariots
(iv) Chita Lagi - Special head ornaments made of thermo cool and studded with artificial gems, flower decorations and pata vastra are provided to the deities. A cocoanut sent by the villagers of Baligaon Dasia Bauri is also presented to Lord Jagannath
(v) Chhera Pahanra - Moping of the chariot platform by the King of Puri. The King comes from the palace in a richly decorated palanquin, offers garlands, performs arati, pays reverential salute, fans the deity by golden flywhisk, and sweeps the chariot platform round the deity. He holds a golden broom in his hand and other Sevayatas meant for this purpose remain present there to throw flowers on the space of the chariot for sweeping purpose by the king. Thereafter fragrant sandal water is sprinkled on the surface of the chariots to sanctify them. It is an exciting scene for which devotees wait eagerly despite the scorching heat or rain as the case may be that happen on that day. It is because King of Puri is regarded as Vishnu and to witness the king along with Lord Jagannath on chariots is believed that all sins of a devotee are washed away. The Chhera Pahanra act signifies that there is no distinction between the king and a sweeper. The King, as the foremost servitor performs the ignoble job of a sweeper as a mark of utmost humility in the presence of the Lord of the Universe
vi) Sarathi Lagi - Three wooden charioteers one for each chariot are then fastened on to the chariots
(vii) Charamala Phita - Impromptu wooden flights of stairs to the chariots are taken out
(Viii) Ghoda Lagi – Four wooden horses to each chariot are yoked
(ix) Pulling of the chariots & start of the journey
First moves the Taladhwaja, the chariot of Balabhadra. Then Darpadalana, the chariot of Subhadra and lastly Nandighosa, the chariot of Jagannath. Lakhs of devotees, men, women, young and old irrespective of caste, creed and nationality scramble eagerly for a touch of the 250 feet holy coir cables to pull the chariots along the 3km. long Grand road to the terminal point at the Gundicha temple. The devotees are also assisted by the professional chariot pullers. During the journey, the deities are presented with holy offerings on behalf of various mathas and institutions.
After the chariots reached and parked in front of the Gundicha temple
(i) The deities undergo a ceremonial bath
(ii) They are dressed in Boirani cloth
(iii) Various offerings are made i.e. bhoga, arati, badasimhara dhupa and khandua lagi, etc
The deities stay in the chariots from the following night to the next day evening.
Entry to Gundicha Temple:
Next day evening the Vijaya kahali, the trumpet announcing deities' august entry, leads the procession of ‘Goti Pahandi’. Once the deities leave their seat, they are taken directly to their prescribed seat in side the temple without taking any rest during the Pahandi procession. In Goti Pahandi Procession the next deity moves only after the preceding deity is already ensconced at the appropriate place. At Gundicha Temple the deities remain for 7 days. The Simhasana in Gundicha Mandir unlike the Ratnavedi is known as Mahavedi or the Janmavedi. It is said that the deities were born here and here King Indradyumna conducted the historic aswamedha yajna. The temple is also known as the Mahavedi, the Yajna Mandap, the Janakapuri and Narsimha Kshetra. During their sojourn in Gundicha temple the deities are dressed in Dasavatara Vesha.