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RATH CHAITANYA

From time immemorial Rath Yatra has been celebrated as the most important ritual of Jagannath. Once every year Puri gears up for the grand journey of their Gods. Rath Chaitanya is an astounding story, of human will and unwavering faith. A journey of ups and downs. Of faith, unity and resilience. A story of how, in the face the 2020 pandemic, human perseverance prevailed, as it all came together, into a grand celebration of resilience and faith.

COVID

2020 shifted the world forever, changing the way we’ve lived ever since. The Coronavirus pandemic had thrown the entire world into disarray. In those troubling times, the quaint town of Puri woke up to a disheartening news. Lord Jagannath’s annual Chariot festival or The Rath Yatra was likely to be cancelled that year, for the first time in over 300 years. After a lot of appeals, PILs and deliberation, the decision was overturned and Rath Yatra was given a go-ahead. Already 12 days behind schedule, it took all their might to keep the tradition of Lord Jagannath and his annual sojourn going. This book is the story of how this journey unfolded through the thick of the pandemic.

DOS-A-DOS

Dos-à-dos (literally “Back-to-back”) is an ancient French technique of binding two books one after another. This style of publication was selected to highlight the two parts of the Rath Chaitanya - The Inward Growth and The Outward Growth. Each section acts as a book on its own, yet is binding to the other, just like in our interconnected reality.

VOLUME 01 | THE INWARD GROWTH

VOLUME 02 | THE OUTWARD GROWTH

THE TRANSITION

The process of building the Rathas was captured in detail, and has been focused on through the first part of the book. Here, we celebrated each element that becomes part of the Rath later on - the wood, the paint, the fabric and the lords themselves. This transition from materials to the ornate Rathas is shown using colours, with the photographs progressively gaining colour as the chariots are made.

CELEBRATING MAKERS

The Rath makers that build the Raths with their bare hands always play the most critical role in Rath Yatra. But the Rath Yatra in 2020 specifically couldn’t have been possible without the determined efforts of its makers. We paid a tribute to the different artisans and workers in the Rath Chaitanya with a series of typography art. 

BHOI

CHITRAKĀRA

OJHA MAHĀRANĀ

SUCHIKĀRA

RUPAKĀRA

BADHEI MAHĀRANĀ

ILLUSTRATIONS

The intricate illustrations that have been used throughout the book were derived from the paintings of Jagannath in Orissa, especially the paintings of the deities by Chitrakaras on the Rathas. These illustrations decorate the pages of the book, just as they decorate the chariots.

COLOURS

The colour palette used throughout the book was derived from the blast of colours that Rath Yatra brings during its celebrations. Each colour takes inspiration from the deities and their chariots, thus further creating a personal connect for the reader with the Rathas. 

JAGANNATH

SACRED WOOD

CHARIOT RED

SUBADHRA

BALABHADRA

CONTENT DEVELOPMENT

The book was divided into 12 chapters, each section having 6 chapters each. Preceding each chapter was a short couplet that set the context for the upcoming content. If you put together all these couplets, a larger poem would emerge. We wrote this poem as if Lord Jagannath was speaking to you personally, imparting wisdom with each line. 

RATH CHAITANYA

From time immemorial Rath Yatra has been celebrated as the most important ritual of Jagannath. Once every year Puri gears up for the grand journey of their Gods. Rath Chaitanya is an astounding story, of human will and unwavering faith. A journey of ups and downs. Of faith, unity and resilience. A story of how, in the face the 2020 pandemic, human perseverance prevailed, as it all came together, into a grand celebration of resilience and faith.

COVID

2020 shifted the world forever, changing the way we’ve lived ever since. The Coronavirus pandemic had thrown the entire world into disarray. In those troubling times, the quaint town of Puri woke up to a disheartening news. Lord Jagannath’s annual Chariot festival or The Rath Yatra was likely to be cancelled that year, for the first time in over 300 years. After a lot of appeals, PILs and deliberation, the decision was overturned and Rath Yatra was given a go-ahead. Already 12 days behind schedule, it took all their might to keep the tradition of Lord Jagannath and his annual sojourn going. This book is the story of how this journey unfolded through the thick of the pandemic.

DOS-A-DOS

Dos-à-dos (literally “Back-to-back”) is an ancient French technique of binding two books one after another. This style of publication was selected to highlight the two parts of the Rath Chaitanya - The Inward Growth and The Outward Growth. Each section acts as a book on its own, yet is binding to the other, just like in our interconnected reality.

VOLUME 01

THE INWARD GROWTH

VOLUME 02

THE INWARD GROWTH

BRINGING THE RATH TO YOU

The Rath Yatra during the pandemic was attended mostly by the organising committee and workers. It was devoid of the lakhs of devotees that frequented the celebrations each year. Thus, since the people couldn’t reach their beloved Rath, we brought the Rath to them.

CRAFTING RATH

As you open the book, you will find a popup installation of the Jagannath Rath inside. This scaled down model of the chariot not just adds an element of amazement to the book, but also gives you a visual aid for the procession. The cardboard cutout was our attempt to bring the Rath to the reader, for them to see it.

ROPE

It is said that pulling the rope of the chariot is an act of great privilege and devotion, making it an important part of the entire celebration. Since this year devotees could not experience this act, we included a piece of the actual Rath Yatra rope in the book for people to touch and feel. This was our attempt to bring the Rath to the reader, for them to feel it.

THE TRANSITION

The process of building the Rathas was captured in detail, and has been focused on through the first part of the book. Here, we celebrated each element that becomes part of the Rath later on - the wood, the paint, the fabric and the lords themselves. This transition from materials to the ornate Rathas is shown using colours, with the photographs progressively gaining colour as the chariots are made.

CELEBRATING MAKERS

The Rath makers that build the Raths with their bare hands always play the most critical role in Rath Yatra. But the Rath Yatra in 2020 specifically couldn’t have been possible without the determined efforts of its makers. We paid a tribute to the different artisans and workers in the Rath Chaitanya with a series of typography art. 

BHOI

CHITRAKĀRA

OJHA MAHĀRANĀ

SUCHIKĀRA

RUPAKĀRA

BADHEI MAHĀRANĀ

ILLUSTRATIONS

The intricate illustrations that have been used throughout the book were derived from the paintings of Jagannath in Orissa, especially the paintings of the deities by Chitrakaras on the Rathas. These illustrations decorate the pages of the book, just as they decorate the chariots.

COLOURS

The colour palette used throughout the book was derived from the blast of colours that Rath Yatra brings during its celebrations. Each colour takes inspiration from the deities and their chariots, thus further creating a personal connect for the reader with the Rathas. 

JAGANNATH

SACRED WOOD

CHARIOT RED

SUBADHRA

BALABHADRA

CONTENT DEVELOPMENT

The book was divided into 12 chapters, each section having 6 chapters each. Preceding each chapter was a short couplet that set the context for the upcoming content. If you put together all these couplets, a larger poem would emerge. We wrote this poem as if Lord Jagannath was speaking to you personally, imparting wisdom with each line. 

BRINGING THE RATH TO YOU

The Rath Yatra during the pandemic was attended mostly by the organising committee and workers. It was devoid of the lakhs of devotees that frequented the celebrations each year. Thus, since the people couldn’t reach their beloved Rath, we brought the Rath to them.

CRAFTING RATH

As you open the book, you will find a popup installation of the Jagannath Rath inside. This scaled down model of the chariot not just adds an element of amazement to the book, but also gives you a visual aid for the procession. The cardboard cutout was our attempt to bring the Rath to the reader, for them to see it.

ROPE

It is said that pulling the rope of the chariot is an act of great privilege and devotion, making it an important part of the entire celebration. Since this year devotees could not experience this act, we included a piece of the actual Rath Yatra rope in the book for people to touch and feel. This was our attempt to bring the Rath to the reader, for them to feel it.

SPREADS

While the entire book ended up being close to 300 pages long, there are a few spreads that can give us a glimpse of how the book turned out. Many of these spreads were designed with the intention of eliciting specific emotions while reading the book. Let’s go through some of them!

SPREADS

While the entire book ended up being close to 300 pages long, there are a few spreads that can give us a glimpse of how the book turned out. Many of these spreads were designed with the intention of eliciting specific emotions while reading the book. Let’s go through some of them!