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For people belonging to Odisha, Puri Rath Yatra holds a huge significance. The festival is dedicated to Lord Jagannath, one of the manifestations of Lord Krishna. Rath Yatra is not just a festival for people belonging to Odisha, but it is an emotion and celebration of faith and harmony. This year the nine-day festival begins from 12 July 2021. This year we are here with a story of Mahaprabhu Shri Jagannath and the King of Kalinga. Scroll down to read on.
During the 1430s, the Gajapati Dynasty of Kalinga was established by Emperor Kapilendra Deva. Under the emperor, the Gajapati Dynasty acquired most of the parts of West Bengal, Jharkhand, East Madhya Pradesh and South Andhra Pradesh. In the year 1467, Kapilendra Deva's son Purushottam Deva succeeded to the throne of Kalinga.
Hamvira Deva, the elder brother of Purushottam Deva, was denied the throne due to various reasons. This outraged him and therefore, he joined hands with the foreign invaders and sultans. Together, they captured some major parts of Kalinga. Hamvira presented Rajahmundry and Kondapalli as a gift to the invaders. However, Purushottam soon gathered a huge and strong army to defeat Mahavira and his allies. He then took back the two territories from their possession.
After this, Purushottam Deva focused on strengthening the boundaries of Kalinga and focused on southern parts of India. This is because when Purushottam Deva was busy in fighting a civil war against his elder brother and allies, Saluva Narasimha Deva, the king of Vijayanagara had led another war and captured Chandragiri and Udayagiri of the Kalinga Dynasty.
Later Purushottam Deva led an offensive and defeated Saluva Narasimha Deva. But Purushottam Deva had to pay a huge cost to win this war. Most of his army men died fighting in the war and the King himself somehow survived the war. While returning from the war, he fell at the door steps of the Lord Jagannath's temple. He begged the Lord to save his life. The deity ensured that Purushottam Deva will win the war next time.
The Gajapati Kings had dedicated themselves as the servants of Lord Jagannath. They used to say that the real king of Kalinga is none other than Lord Jagannath while the Gajapati rulers are just servants, serving at the feet of Lord Jagannath. While fighting the next war, Lord Jagannath along with His elder brother, Lord Balbhadra had fought alongside the Gajapati army, dressed as common warriors.
After winning the war against Saluva Narasimha Deva, Purushottam Deva sent a proposal stating that the latter is interested in marrying Padmavati, the daughter of Saluva Narasimha. But since Gajapati Kings used to sweep the floors of Lord Jagannath, though using a gold broom, Saluva Narasimha declined the proposal. He said that his daughter would never marry a mere sweeper. This enraged Purushottam Deva and he declared that he would marry Padmavati to a sweeper. This worried the ministers of both the courts.
The King needed to marry either a queen or a princess while he had ordered his courtmen to capture and marry Padmavati to a sweeper. Getting a princess forcefully married to someone below her status would mean a grave problem. So the ministers waited for the Rath Yatra festival. As soon as the festival began and the procession was about to be taken out, the King started sweeping the floor. Right at that moment, Princess Padmavati was ushered by the priests and ministers. While the King was sweeping the floor and the chariot, with the King literally being a sweeper at that instance, the princess put a garland around his neck.
Thus, she was married to a sweeper who was, however, a King. The Gajapati King too had his orders fulfilled without getting into any problem.