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Puri is not only a land of monuments, beaches and secnic spots, but also a land of fairs and festivals. Tourists could enjoy their visit throughout the year in Puri. Every season in Puri brings a host of colourful fairs and festivals presenting joy to the visitors.
It is interesting to note that all the various diversified cultural currents and cross-currents have been interwoven into a harmonious whole in the festivals of Puri. Almost all the festivals are associated with the underlying principle of divinity and the ascription of human conduct and affection for it. Some of the most important festivals, which a visitor to the city would like to see during his stay, are enumerated below.
It is held in June-July commemorating the journey of Lord Krishna from Gokul to Mathura. In addition to thousands of Hindus from the whole India, number of foreign travellers also participate in this most colourful festival. Jagannath, the Lord of the universe, his brother Balabhadra and sister Subhadra are drawn in three gorgeously decorated chariots from the main gate of the temple to the Garden House (Gundichaghara) where they stay for seven days. The return journey(Bahuda Yatra) is also celebrated on the 9th day in the traditional manner and the three deities are brought back to the main temple from the Garden House on the three chariots.
This Summer festival of Lord Jagannath falls on April-May on Akshya Trutiya (Third day of the bright half of Vaisakha) and it continues for twenty one days. Everyday, the representative images of the deities (Rama, Krishna, Madanmohan, Laxmi and Vishwadhatri) are taken out in great procession to the nearby Chandan tank/Narendra kunda. Here the images of the deities are taken into gorgeously decorated boats and rowed to the accompaniment of music and dance. On the last day of the festival 'Bhaunri Yatra' is performed. Various rites are performed inside Jagannath temple.
Durga Puja / Gosani Yatra
This is one of the most important Pujas celebrated in Puri. It is also known as 'Gosani Yatra'. It is celebrated to commemorate the victory of good over the evil. Durga, the Mother Goddess is the epitome of all that is good and beautiful and the buffalo-demon all that is vice and ugly. With her trident, She kills him sitting on the lion, and this festival is to celebrate her victory and it is celebrated with gaiety and grandeur. During the festival, exquisite clay images of the Goddess are worshipped at many places of the city with grand traditional decorations, and on the day of immersion, they are taken out in colourful procession through streets of the city thronged with visitors and line before the Lions gate of Lord Jagannath temple on their way to the sea.
Jhulan Yatra is the Swinging festival of Lord Jagannath. The protege of Lord Jagannath is placed in gorgeously decorated swing in a relaxing posture and swung to the accompaniment of music and dance. This Festival is scrupulously observed in the temple of Lord Jagannath and other Mathas in Puri, for a week, preceding the Sravana purnima, which falls in August everyyear. The full moon day that falls in the month of Sravana marks the end of the festival.
Ganesh Puja/Ganesh Chaturthi
This Festival falls in the middle of September month. Lord Ganesh is worshipped by peoplethroughout Puri. In Puri, this festival is celebrated for a week. Clay images of Lord Ganesh are installed in gorgeously raised platforms. The last day of the week when the immersion ceremony takesplace, all the images of the city numbering hundreds line before the lions gate of Lord Jagannath temple on their way to the sea is a sight to see even for the angles.
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