Rath Yatra, the festival of chariots of Lord Jagannatha is celebrated in Puri in the state of Orissa. This festival is celebrated every year in the month of July with great excitement and enjoyment all over the beach city. Rath Yatra is celebrated two days after the new moon day of the month of Asadh, according to the Indian solar calendar. During the festival, Lord Jagannatha with his brother Balabhadra and sister Subhadra is taken out on a journey. The grand festival is also known by other names like Gundicha Jatra, Ghosa Jatra, Navadina Jatra and Dasavatara Jatra.
At this time of the year, people from all over the world gather at Puri to be a part of this auspicious occasion. It is counted as one of the largest festivals of India, which is celebrated with great sanctity and holiness. The deities are taken out from the main shrine and are set on a journey along the roads on the huge chariots. The deities that preside in the temple are Sri Mandira, Lord Jagannatha, Lord Balabhadra and Goddess Subhadra. The chariots carry each of the deities on it.
The chariots or the raths are beautifully decorated with colorful flags and other adornments. Before taking out the chariots along with the deities, elaborate rituals are carried out. People celebrate this festival with great sacredness and sanctity. The devotees consider it to be a sacrosanct act to draw the chariots with a large rope. No other festival of India draws so many devotees at the same time of the year.
The chariots are drawn along the grand avenue that leads to the Gundicha temple. This temple is located about 2 miles away from the Jagannath temple. The deities return back to their temple after staying there for seven days. Rath Yatra in Puri is celebrated with great fanfare and excitement. Being a part of the Rath Yatra festival, you can get acquainted with the local customs, tribal folks and the socio-cultural-religious ethos of the Indian civilization.
The Hindu devotees even consider it be a sanctified act if they can even touch the chariot. Various devotional songs in Oriya are sung to make the occasion all the more auspicious. Be a part of the grand Rath Yatra and plan your visit to Puri accordingly.