Rath Yatra
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About The Festival

Ratha Yatra or more commonly referred to as the Chariot Festival is among the most famous Hindu festivals in India and is associated with Lord Jagannath held in the historically significant location - Puri in the state of Odisha, India.

This festival is celebrated annually during the Ashad Shukla Dwitiya (referring to the 2nd day in bright fortnight of Ashad month).

The festival signifies the start of Lord Jagannath's visit to Gundicha mata's temple annually after visiting his aunt's home (Mausi Maa Temple which is situated proximate to Balagandi Chaka in Puri).

As part of Ratha Jatra, the deities of Lord Jagannath, Lord Balabhadra and Subhadra are taken out in a huge procession to Gundicha Temple where they remain there for close to nine days. After the nine days, the Ratha Jatra returns to the Main temple. This return journey to Puri is commonly referred to as Bahuda Jatra.

 
Travel Tips

Tourists and devotees are advised to book their tickets at least 2-3 months before the start of the festival owing to the large influx of people. The festival usually takes places in the second or third week of July. Therefore, getting there a week before is recommended to visit other significant landmarks in the vicinity, including The Sun Temple in Konark and Lingaraja Temple located in Bhubaneswar, the capital city of Orissa.



When to visit

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Celebration

The celebrations normally begin with three decorated chariot that resemble temple structures which are pulled through the streets of Puri and is referred to as Badadanda. This signifies the start of the annual journey of Lord Jagannath, Lord Balabhadra, and their sister Subhadra to their aunt's temple located at Gundicha Temple – situated around 2 km from the temple. This day is considered auspicious and is the only day when pilgrims and devotees are not granted access to the temple premises. During the duration of the festival, devotees from across the globe visit Puri with the desire to pull the huge chariot which is witnessed by thousands of other devotees.

 

 

The people who help in the pulling of the chariot consider it a pious deed and are also willing to risk their lives in the bargain by making their way through the huge crowd. The large procession that usually accompanies the chariots plays a number of devotional songs accompanied by drums, tambourines, trumpets, among other instruments. Children usually throng the streets through which the large chariot passes while adding to the celebrations. The Ratha carts are around 45 feet (14 m) high and are pulled by thousands of devotees that attend this auspicious event. In fact, a new chariot is built every year from a particular type of tree. Devotees from other parts of the globe also come to Puri during this time for the festival. The annual event is also broadcasted on a number of Indian and foreign television channels with live telecasts also available.

 
Most Celebrated Places

The festival is celebrated on a grand scale in Bada Danda in Puri, Orissa. Also, expatriates in the UK and USA also celebrate this festival with chariots (not as huge as the main one) being pulled down the street. Thousands of devotees from other states in Orissa and parts of India make it a point to visit Puri during this time.

 
How to Reach


 
Time Period

The Rath Yatra festival is celebrated annually at Puri, the famous town located in Odisha, on the second (dwitiya) day of shukla pakshya (waxing cycle of moon) of Ashadh Maas (3rd month in Lunar Calendar). Therefore, the festival usually falls during the months of June and July which also signifies the start of the monsoons in most parts of India.