Puri in Odisha is the site for one of India’s biggest religious gatherings—the Chariot festival or more famously, the Rath Yatra Festival. The festival marking the commemoration of Lord Jagannath, a reincarnation of Lords Vishnu and Krishna, along with his sister Subhadra and brother Balabhdra draws hundreds of devotees and tourists every year. By Shubhanjana Das
The Rath Yatra Festival in Puri commemorates the arrival of Lord Jagannath, Balabhadra, and Subhadra to their birthplace Gundicha Temple and to their aunt’s home, Mausi Maa Temple, located near Balagandi Chaka. It is believed by the devotees that attending the Rath Yatra Festival is a gateway to heaven.
The festival is celebrated at the Jagannath Dham in Puri, Bhubaneshwar.
This year, the grand celebration is scheduled to be held from July 4 to July 15.
Witness the journey of these deities and how the same is celebrated with the highest degree of splendour and enthusiasm. You get to witness the departure of the Gods from their abode and then being taken to the Gundicha Temple before returning after seven days via Mausa Maa Temple, all in the pompous, resplendent chariots that are the show stoppers of the festival as far as the visual appeal is concerned.
As part of the grand finale of the festival, an entertaining act is performed for the onlookers, wherein an angry Goddess Lakshmi locks out her husband Lord Jagannath for being away for so long without having invited or informed her. The Lord finally placates and pacifies her with sweets after which she relents and lets him enter. Over the 12 days of the festival, you will get to witness the whole state on a virtual lock-down as everyone comes together for the Rath Yatra Festival, wherein over a million people gather for the commemoration of the deities’ journey.
You can get a cab or drive to Puri from Bhubaneshwar, which has an airport connected to all major cities in India with regular flights. The Bhubaneshwar railway station as well as Puri railway station is well-connected to major cities, even though the former enjoys better connectivity.