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Festival of Chariots, also known as Ratha Yatra, is an ecstatic celebration
that takes place around late June or early July in Jagannatha Puri, located in
the Indian province of Orissa. The Deities of Jagannatha, Baladeva, and Subhadra remain inside the
temple for a whole year, in which devotees would have to travel to take Their
darasana. For one day of the year, these Deities would be place on large
chariots. Devotees would pull the chariots through the main streets of the
village so that bystanders can see the Lord.
Prabhupada started the first Ratha Yatra in the United States, which held in a fashion that was similar to the
original ceremony in Jagannatha Puri. In most cities, four large rathas
(chariots) carry Sri Jagannatha, Sri Baladeva, Srimati Subhadra, and Srila
Prabhupada. Some temples may add more rathas, or put Jagannatha, Baladeva, and
Subhadra in one ratha. During the pulling of the ratha, kirtans are sung nice
and loudly so that everybody can gain benefit of listening to the holy name.
the United States, Ratha Yatras start as early as April and end as late as
October. Please visit Festival of India to view the schedule
of when Ratha Yatras take place, as well as information such as history and
culture of these festivals.
UPDATED: August 31, 2010