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Ratha Yatra

 

The 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.

 

Srila 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.

 

In 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