“Ratha-yatra” means “chariot festival”. This celebration has been held every year for hundreds of years at Jagannatha Puri, in Orissa on India’s east coast. There, three huge chariots, carrying the Deity forms of Jagannatha, Baladeva and Subhadra, are pulled by hand through the city streets amid loud musical performances. Millions of pilgrims come to the festival in Orissa. Jagannatha is a special and very merciful form of Krishna.
Ratha-yatra is the biggest street festival sponsored by the International Society for Krishna Consciousness – and ends with a delicious, sanctified vegetarian feast. It is celebrated by devotees of Lord Krishna all over the world and was introduced to the West by His Divine Grace A. C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada in 1967 in San Franscisco. The Ratha-yatra festivals are held at several different places across the country, the biggest in London. The procession starts from Hyde Park’s Speaker’s Corner near Marble Arch, goes through Park Lane, Piccadilly and Haymarket and finally arrives at Trafalgar Square, where festivities continue till night. Drama, dance, philosophy and a feast are the highlights.
For more information, please visit the Ratha-Yatra website.