About Rath Yatra
Rath Yatra or Rath Jatra is the name of the massive Chariot Festival of Lord Jagannath Ji celebrated with much passion and religious fervor in the holy land of Puri. Annually celebrated to honor Lord Jagannath Ji -- the presiding deity of the town, this great and notable Chariot Festival lasts for around eight to ten days.
The festival serves a good reason for this pious land to be flocked by an endless number of pilgrims every year who head towards Puri with a staunch belief that a single glimpse of the Lord during this great festival is an assured means of salvation.
The festival observes a huge procession of decorated idols of Lord Jagannath, his sister Subhadra and brother Balbhadra or Balrama. All the deities are seated on separate chariots with the Lord adorning the most massive one.
One of the unique features of this chariot bearing the Lord, other than its grand size of 14 into 10 meters, is that it is pulled by devotees rather than the horses. The ropes of this chariot are considered to be the threads of salvation. Though celebrated in June-July, the construction of these chariots for the Rath Yatra starts as early as April.
The initiation day of the Yatra is observed as a public holiday in Orissa. So, children use this much awaited holiday to imitate the real Jatra at Puri. They flock the streets carrying diminutive versions of the chariots with small idols mounted on them.
People decorate their houses and shops with flowers, lights and rangolis for the festival. Traditional desserts and sweets are especially prepared for the occasion. It is also customary to refrain from non- vegetarian food during these days.
Falling in the Monsson season, the festivals also offers another reason for merry making to the people who take part in the celebrations as a symbol of thanking the God for showering a bountiful harvest upon them.