Wednesday 3 August 2022

Ratha Jatra - Department of Posts

Ratha Jatra is a world-famous festival of Puri, Odisha, India. Each year, the divine siblings- Shree Jagannatha Mahaprabhu, elder brother, Shree Balabhadra, and sister, Devi Subhadra, make their annual journey from the Shree Jagannatha Temple in giant wooden and decorated chariots called Rathas and visit their birthplace- Shree Gundicha Temple. 

It is also called Rath Yatra and Ratha Yatra.

Ratha Jatra is now celebrated worldwide. The dates vary as per the tithi. This year, the journey of the deities began on July 1st. It ended on July 12th on Niladri Bije when the deities entered the Shreemandira i.e. the Puri Shree Jagannatha Temple. 

As per the centuries-old ritual, each year, Shree Jagannatha appeases His wife, Devi Lakshmi, by gifting Her Rasagolas along with many other presents like saree, jewellery etc. 

Before 2015, many were not aware of the cultural link of Rasagola (Rasgulla) with Odisha. 

The Department of Posts had issued a "Palanquin Carried Special Cover for Rasagola" on Dola Purnima, 2018.

Shree Jagannathaji Ke Vyanjan Mein Rasagola i.e. Rasagola in Shree Jagannathaji's Cuisine-

It was covered by many media.

This year's Ratha Jatra may be over last month. But, the images and videos continue to be shared. Some time ago, I saw a video of the celebration at Germany this year.

India Posts has printed some stamps, postal-covers etc over the years depicting the Ratha Jatra.


The following multi-coloured commemorative postage-stamp and Miniature Sheet on "Rath Yatra" was issued by India Posts on July 12, 2010.

The story was shared by some national media including Zee News.

It is said- "Pictures speak more than a thousand words."

Such multi-coloured images help in sharing the correct information.

We can see the three Rathas depicted in the above printed art-work considered for the stamp and the image is true to the original version.

The three Rathas have the colours as seen in the Puri Ratha Jatra, the most ancient Ratha Jatra of the world-

From Left to Right in the above image- 

Name of Ratha - Colours of the Fabric on Ratha - Ratha of God

Taladhwaja - Red and Green - Shree Balabhadra

Debadalana/Darpadalana- Red and Black - Devi Subhadra 

Nandighosha - Red and Yellow - Shree Jagannatha 

The stamp in the sheet has Nandighosha, the Ratha of Shree Jagannatha (as follows) :

There was another stamp too issued in the 1960s in which the name of the festival was shown- "Rathajatra".

This writer has always stressed on the usage of a uniform spelling all across. Most people know this festival as - Rath Yatra - and that is the most common spelling.


Some days ago, I also saw the postal gifts on the occasion of Ratha Jatra 2022.

Special Cancellation for postal stationery for philatelic promotion-  this year (in 2022) with information and images of the festival.

While I am happy to see the interest and focus on our culture, tradition and festivals, I am disappointed with the presentation. 

As it is promotion material that will inform and influence many, the material should be error-free.

The 4 afore-mentioned Special Cancellation for 2022 as as follows:


Why are the eyes of Shree Balabhadra and Devi Subhadra shown like this?

Why cannot we ensure proper depiction of the eyes of Shree Balabhadra and Devi Subhadra- like the eyes in our original idols at Puri?

If the name had not been provided in this post-card, would the viewer/reader know which Besha is this?

Shree Jagannatha and His siblings have many types of Besha. 

Does the given image showcase "Netrotsav" correctly?

The image provided looks like some other Besha.

But, by seeing images like this, viewers will think that this is the correct depiction.

Actual event, description and images must be correctly used so as to ensure correct representation

For the Netrotsav i.e. Nabajoubana Darshana - devotees are allowed to see Shree Jagannatha after a fortnight of Anasara/Anabasara. Photography is not allowed inside the Shree Jagannatha Temple. 

Still, for such events, the correct art of the deities and the ritual must be provided. 

Shreemandira administration team already has correct images of all the Beshas, that they regularly publish on calendars and also on posters etc that are sold by the administration. Those should be consulted before choosing an image. The expert advice of the temple priests should have been taken.


It should be-
"जगन्नाथस्वामी नयनपथगामी भवतु मे"

"Jagannatha Swami 
Nayana Pathagami 
Bhavatu Me"

"Jagannāthaswāmī nayana pathagāmī bhavatu me"

Puri Shreemandira is officially referred as- Shree Jagannatha Temple.

We should use "Jagannatha" as spelling.


Using a single colour to show the Rathas, may mislead some people.

While I agree that we cannot always have multi-coloured printing and the postage-material may not allow such depiction, the least we can do is at least try to showcase properly by sticking to and strictly adhering to these-

Original festival celebration must be responsibly shown with the proper shapes, structures, and colours of Rathas, the faces of the idols and especially their eyes and their Beshas (attire/costumes) etc. 


Correct spelling usage is a must. 

"Niladri Bije" is written in English.

But, in Odia, it is one word- ନୀଳାଦ୍ରିବିଜେ. There should be no gap between ନୀଳାଦ୍ରି and ବିଜେ.

In the image, Shree Jagannatha image is of His Suna Besha. 

While on Niladri Bije, Shree Jagannatha wears Tahia.

Niladri Bije should have the photograph of the correct event and not of Suna Besha of Shree Jagannatha.

It is the day when Rasagola bhoga is offered. So, Rasagola pot and Maa Lakshmi's images could also have been represented.

Plus, why does Shree Jagannatha's head have a partial Neelachakra and Patitapabana Bana?

Neelachakra and Patitapabana Bana should be shown in the temple image (to the side of Shree Jagannatha)

Whenever there are such opportunities to showcase our culture, tradition etc, we must ensure correct representation. 

It is important to have a uniform code and strict rules that all content-creators and media persons must follow. What is shown via such public platforms etc is impacting a large population.


Why not show postal designs and ideas about to be printed and consult with an independent team constituting of experts of that subject- in this case, Shree Jagannatha culture experts, Sanskrit Professors, researchers, other experts etc within the Department and also outsiders so that valid suggestions can be incorporated?

We cannot do anything after the printing of such important stuff that become a part and constitute our history and will be referred to in the future.

But, we can surely make an impact before the printing and ensure that the correct message, images and ideas are conveyed.

There should be no room or scope for misleading information.

It is great to find many stamps related to Odisha in the Album of the Gallery of the Odisha Postal Department's website -

Additional information related to the culture and history along with images can and must also be shared on the website so that readers and viewers can learn more.

All the above is meant not only for the Department of Posts, but for all media and social-media content creators and publishers also. 

It is our collective responsibility.

The above is meant for every person, who shares images of Gods and local customs, products etc and writes or depicts about our culture and treasures. 

Requesting all to please take care.

What are your views? Please share in the comments below.

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