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Rath Yatra Detail
2017 Rath Yatra Calendar: 06/25/2017
Origin:
Puri Jagannath Rath Yatra or car festival of Puri Jagannath temple is one of the largest religious ceremonies of India. As part of Rath Yatra, the idols of Lord Puri Jagannath, Lord Balabhadra and Subhadra are taken out in a procession to Gundicha Temple and remain there for nine days. Then the idols or Rath Yatra returns to Puri Jagannath temple. The return journey of Puri Jagannath Rath Yatra is known as Bahuda Yatra. Chandan Jatra celebrated on Akshay Tritiya marks the beginning of Rath Yatra festival during when the making of chariots and sandalwood paste painting start.

Throughout the year, the Deity of Jagannatha is worshiped in a great temple, the massive stone tower of which dominates the city of Puri. The Deity is not a mere statue. By His supreme potency, the Supreme Lord agrees to personally enter the form of Deity, just to accept the loving service of His devotees. In this sense the Deity is non-different from the Lord Himself. And once a year Lord Jagannatha comes forth in all His magnificent splendor to enjoy the Ratha-yatra parade and show Himself to all. Every year a grand procession of Rath Yatra is celebrated with these idols. The murtis are changed every twelve or ninteen years which is called Navakalebar.
Detail:
There are few mythical stories related with Rath Yatra's origins exist that reflect the socio-religious thinking and beliefs of the people of the region.

Many thousands of years ago, a King name Indradyumna desired to have someone carve special Deity forms of Lord Krsna, His brother Balarama and sister Subhadra. Visvakarma, an architect and artist from the heavenly planets, agreed to make the Deities on the condition that no one would interrupt his work. The King agreed to this proposal, and Visvakarma set about carving the Deities, working in a locked room. Once, however, the King, impatient with the slow pace of the work, entered the room to see how much progress had been made. At that instant Visvakarma vanished, leaving three incompletely carved forms. The King, however, was so pleased that he installed them in a great temple and worshiped them with great opulence. Each year he arranged a grand procession, during which each of the three Deities rode on a large beautifully decorated cart.

Another story says, To kill Lord Krishna and Balram, Kansa, their maternal uncle, invited them to Mathura. He sent Akrur with a chariot to Gokul. As asked, Lord Krishna, along with Balram, sat on the chariot and left for Mathura. The devotees celebrate this day of departure as Rath Yatra.
Tradition:
A glimpse of Lord Jagannatha on the chariot is considered to be very auspicious and saints, poets and scriptures have repeatedly glorified the sanctity of this special festival. The sanctity of the festival is such that even a touch of the chariot or even the ropes with which these are pulled is considered enough to confer the results of several pious deeds or penance for many lifetimes.

Srila Prabhupada, the founder of the Hare Krishna movement, was very fond of Ratha-yatra. As a child he began celebrating Ratha-yatra when he was five years old, using a small home-made cart and pulling it around the neighborhood with his friends. Later in life, from 1967 until his passing, Srila Prabhupada joined thousands of disciples in cities around the world as they celebrated elaborate Ratha-yatra chariot festivals in the streets of London, Paris, Sydney, Tokyo, San Francisco, Los Angeles, and on New York?s prestigious Fifth Avenue.

Hare Krishna devotees hold Ratha-yatra parades in over 100 cities, including Dublin, Belfast, Birmingham, London, Budapest, New York, Montreal, Paris, Moscow, Singapore, Toronto, Antwerp, Kuala Lumpur, Durban, Sydney, Mumbai, New Delhi and Los Angeles, usually culminating in a Vedic Village set up in an open space, with festival tents, entertainment stages, vegetarian food stalls, and a variety of cultural displays and exhibits.

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