Rath Yatra 2016
Rath Yatra in Puri
When: 6th July, 2016
Where: Puri, Orissa
If you've ever wondered what a juggernaut actually looks like, this is where you can see it- in the great annual rath yatra (often referred to, rather prosaically, as the (Car Festival) of Lord Jagannath in Orissa. The venue for the festival is the town of Puri, famed for its temple to Lord Jagannath, as Krishna is known in this part of the country. The festival commemorates the journey of Krishna from Gokul to Mathura.
For the rath yatra, three huge chariots - each with about a dozen wheels up to 7 feet in diameter - are ritually pulled through the streets, from the Jagannath temple to the temple of Gundicha Mandir. The raths are replicas of the Jagannath temple and each of them carries an idol - of Jagannath, of his brother Balbhadra and his sister Subhadra - to Gundicha Mandir, where they stay for a week before being taken back, again in the raths, to the Jagannath Temple.
The entire journey- back and forth- is accompanied by thousands of pilgrims, many of whom (in previous years, but fortunately no longer) threw themselves under the wheels of the 'juggernaut' in their fervour. Today, the days for the yatra are holidays, when all of Puri becomes one huge fairground and temple rolled into one.
This chariot festival of Puri takes place during the full moon in the month of Asadha (June/ July) according to the Hindu calendar. Puri being the abode of the three gods, attracts a lot of pilgrims from across India to celebrate the return of the three Gods to their mother's house. In addition to being an important pilgrimage, this event also attracts many tourists, who come to observe the procession of the Jagannath Chariots.
Read more about how to reach Puri and where to stay in Puri.
More pilgrimage festivals in India: Janmashtami | Durga Puja