Rath Yatra or the Car festival is one of the main festivals of Puri, celebrated every-year on Ashad Shukla Dwitiya that generally falls between the months of June-July. The festival is celebrated to commemorate the annual visit of the presiding deities of the Jagannath Puri temple to their Aunt’s house. It is believed that during this festival, Lord Jagannath Temple Rath Yatra comes out of their holy abode and gives Darshana (holy view) to the people.
The festival holds immense significance among the Puri locals as well as other pilgrims and devotees. The chariots on which the deities are taken to the temple are massive pieces of art that are adorned with numerous designs & patterns. The construction of the chariots starts with the Chandana Yatra and is undertaken by carpenters known as “Maharana”, who hold hereditary rights for the same.
Further, these chariots are distinguished from each other by a set colored pattern of cloth robes such as Lord Jagannath’s chariot (Nandighosa)is covered with red & yellow robes, Lord Baladhabra’s chariot (Taladhwaja) has red & blue robes of cloth and Devi Subhadra’s chariot (Dwarpadalana) is covered with red & black cloth.
Numerous devotees and pilgrims flock the land during the festival as it is believed that the ropes attached to the Rath or Chariot are ropes of salvation and thus everyone wishes to touch them once. After enjoying a nine day stay at the temple, the deities are brought back to the Puri Jagannath Temple as part of the return journey known as “Bahuda Yatra”.