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Sri Jagannath

What is Ratha Yatra ?

Ratha Yatra literally means Chariot Festival. Ratha Yatra originated 5,000 years ago in India, on the East Coast state of Orrisa, in a city called Jagannatha Puri. The Festival celebrates Lord Krishna's return to Vrindaban.

For the festivities; there are three chariots, one for each of the three deities; Lord Jagannatha, Lord Balarama and Lady Subhadra. The canopied chariots are decorated with flowers and balloons and are pulled with long, thick ropes by hundreds of people.

Ratha Yatra was introduced to the West by Srila Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada, founder acarya of the International Society for Krishna Consciousness (ISKCON) . The movement's goal is to promote true peace and happiness in society at large by spreading spiritual knowledge and chanting the Maha mantra Hare Krishna Hare Krishna Krishna Krishna Hare Hare Hare Rama Hare Rama Rama Rama Hare Hare. Please chant the Maha Mantra and your life will become sublime.

Sri Jagannath

History of Sri Jagannath Ratha Yatra

In the past, enthroned a sacred king named Maharaja Indradyumna which is a devotee of God. For the sake of the spiritual enlightenment of all citizens, Maharaja had a great desire to worship God directly and trying to make God Himself pleased to present and bless his kingdom.

Satisfied by the offerings of yadnya and devotion from Maharaja, Almighty God is pleased to realize Himself in a very unique shape, known as Jagannatha.

Sri Jagannath

Unique Form of Sri Jagannatha

According to the literature of the Vedas, it is told that one day, Lord Sri Krishna heard talk about how His Beloved Devotee, the residents of Vrindavan, felt so sad because of the absence of Lord Krishna. Hearing spiritual conversations about the sense of separation that is so deep, His hair began to stand up, His eyes began to widen and filled with tears, His hands and feet began to shrink because of the spiritual happiness.

Seeing this situation, His brother (Balarama) also show the same characteristics. And then when His sister (Subhadra) witnessed the majesty of this form, she immediately also showed a similar form.

In the day of the Ratha Yatra festival, these three forms of arcas that representing lilas (spiritual story) is placed on the train.

Sri Jagannath

Srila Prabhupada & Ratha Yatra

The Festival of Chariots was first performed outside of India on July 9, 1967 in San Francisco , under the supervision of His Divine Grace A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada. Srila Prabhupada, as he is more affectionately known, is the Founder-Acarya of the International Society of Krishna Consciousness. Srila Prabhupada first got the idea for performing the festival in San Francisco , while looking out the window of his room above Frederick Street.

Today, the Festival of the Chariots is performed around the world, including down 5th Avenue in Manhattan , along Pacific Coast Highway in Laguna Beach and through Golden Gate Park in San Francisco . Detroit held its first Festival of Chariots in 1985 and has become one of the largest celebrations outside of India.