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Lord Jagannath Rath Yatra in Puri 2024

Rath Yatra: The Grand Chariot Festival of India

Rath Yatra, also known as the Chariot Festival, is one of the most celebrated and anticipated festivals in India. Originating in the ancient city of Puri in the state of Odisha, Rath Yatra is dedicated to Lord Jagannath, a form of Lord Vishnu. This grand event, marked by the majestic procession of colossal chariots, attracts millions of devotees from across the globe, making it a symbol of communal harmony and devotion.

Historical Significance of Rath Yatra

The origins of Rath Yatra date back to the 12th century when the Jagannath Temple was built by King Anantavarman Chodaganga Deva. The festival is rooted in the belief that Lord Jagannath, along with his siblings Balabhadra (Balarama) and Subhadra, embarks on an annual journey to his garden palace in the Gundicha Temple, situated about 3 kilometers from the main Jagannath Temple. This journey symbolizes the divine’s willingness to step out of the sanctum to meet devotees from all walks of life.

The Rituals and Preparations of Rath Yatra

The preparations for Rath Yatra begin 3 months in advance, with the construction of the three gigantic chariots being the most significant task. Each chariot is meticulously crafted from wood and adorned with vibrant decorations. The three chariots are:

1. Nandighosa: The chariot of Lord Jagannath, characterized by its 16 wheels and a height of 45 feet.
2. Taladhwaja: The chariot of Lord Balabhadra, with 14 wheels and a height of 44 feet.
3. Darpadalana: The chariot of Subhadra, having 12 wheels and a height of 43 feet.

File:Ratha chaka (3).jpg - Wikimedia Commons

The festival begins with the “Chhera Pahara” ritual, where the Gajapati King of Puri sweeps the chariots with a golden broom, signifying that everyone is equal in the eyes of the divine. Following this, the deities are placed on their respective chariots, and the grand procession commences.

Rath Yatra 2024 Date

Rath Yatra takes place on the second day of Ashadha month, or late June or early July, as per the Hindu calendar. ‘Ashadha Shukla Paksha Dwitiya’ is the name given to this day in ancient writings. In 2024, Rath Yatra will be observed on 07 July

The Procession of Rath Yatra

The chariots are pulled by thousands of devotees using thick ropes, amidst the chanting of hymns, the beating of drums, and the blowing of conch shells. This is not just a physical journey but a deeply spiritual experience for the participants, who believe that pulling the chariots brings them closer to salvation.

File:Pulling of Rathas.jpg - Wikimedia Commons

The procession moves through the streets of Puri, and the sight of the towering chariots, festooned with colorful decorations, is a spectacle to behold. Devotees from different parts of the world gather to witness this divine journey, making it a melting pot of cultures and traditions.

The Stay at Gundicha Temple

Upon reaching the Gundicha Temple, the deities stay there for nine days, where they are offered special prayers and rituals. This period is known as the “Gundicha Yatra” or “Mausi Maa Yatra.” Devotees flock to the Gundicha Temple to seek blessings and participate in the festivities.

The Return Journey

The return journey, known as “Bahuda Yatra,” takes place on the ninth day. The deities are brought back to the Jagannath Temple, with similar fervor and devotion. An interesting event during this phase is the “Suna Besha” or “Golden Attire” ritual, where the deities are adorned with gold ornaments, creating a mesmerizing sight.

Cultural Impact and Modern Celebrations

Rath Yatra is not confined to Puri alone. Over the years, the festival has transcended geographical boundaries and is celebrated in various parts of India and abroad, especially by the ISKCON (International Society for Krishna Consciousness) community. The essence of Rath Yatra lies in its message of unity, equality, and devotion, making it relevant even in today’s modern world.

Rath celebration 7. · Free Stock Photo

In contemporary times, the festival has embraced digital platforms, allowing devotees who cannot be physically present to participate virtually. Live streaming of the procession, online pujas, and interactive sessions with priests have made Rath Yatra accessible to a global audience.


Rath Yatra is more than just a festival; it is a celebration of faith, unity, and the eternal bond between the divine and the devotees. The grandeur of the chariots, the fervent devotion of the participants, and the rich cultural heritage associated with Rath Yatra make it a truly unique and unforgettable experience. As the chariots roll through the streets of Puri, they carry with them the hopes, dreams, and prayers of millions, reaffirming the timeless connection between humanity and the divine.

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