Chhera Pahanra: The Ritual of Sweeping the Chariots


Chhera Pahanra is a significant ritual that takes place during the annual Rath Yatra festival in Puri, Odisha. It involves the ceremonial sweeping of the chariots of Lord Jagannath, Lord Balabhadra, and Goddess Subhadra by the Gajapati King of Puri. This ritual holds profound spiritual and symbolic significance, highlighting themes of humility, equality, and devotion.

Historical and Mythological Significance

Chhera Pahanra has its roots in ancient Hindu traditions and mythology. It is believed that sweeping the chariots of the deities is a gesture of devotion and reverence. According to legends, Lord Jagannath once asked King Indradyumna, the legendary founder of the Jagannath Temple, to perform this act of humility. Since then, the Gajapati King of Puri has been performing this ritual during Rath Yatra, symbolizing the king’s subservience to Lord Jagannath and the equality of all before the divine.

Rituals and Procedures

The Chhera Pahanra ritual is performed with great pomp and ceremony. Here’s an overview of the rituals and procedures involved:

  1. Preparation
    • Before the ritual begins, the Gajapati King dresses in traditional attire fit for the occasion. He carries a golden broom, which is specially made for this purpose.
  2. Approach to the Chariots
    • The Gajapati King arrives at the chariot of Lord Jagannath, accompanied by temple priests and dignitaries. He ascends the chariot in a ceremonial manner.
  3. Sweeping of the Chariots
    • With utmost reverence and devotion, the Gajapati King sweeps the entire surface of the chariot with the golden broom. This act symbolizes the removal of any impurities and the king’s readiness to serve Lord Jagannath.
  4. Offerings
    • After sweeping, the Gajapati King offers sandalwood water, flowers, and other auspicious items to cleanse and decorate the chariot further.
  5. Prayers and Mantras
    • Throughout the ritual, prayers, hymns, and mantras are recited by priests and devotees, invoking blessings and divine grace upon the chariots and everyone present.
  6. Equality and Devotion
    • Chhera Pahanra exemplifies the principle of equality before the divine. It signifies that all devotees, regardless of social status or background, are equal in the eyes of Lord Jagannath. The act of sweeping the chariots underscores humility and devotion to the deity.

Cultural Significance

Chhera Pahanra is not just a ritual; it is a cultural spectacle that attracts thousands of devotees and spectators. It showcases the deep-rooted traditions and customs of Odisha, highlighting the importance of humility and service in spiritual practice. The ritual reinforces the sacred bond between the Gajapati King, Lord Jagannath, and the people of Odisha.


Chhera Pahanra is a sacred ritual within the Rath Yatra festival that embodies profound spiritual meanings and cultural significance. It symbolizes humility, equality, and devotion to Lord Jagannath. The participation of the Gajapati King in this ritual underscores the rich traditions and enduring faith associated with the Jagannath Temple and Rath Yatra celebrations in Puri.

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