What is the Rath Yatra?

The Rath-Yatra: The Carnival of Chariots: The Rath is a chariot, and Yatra means journey. This is a sort of Hindus’ Santa Claus parade or a religious carnival of chariots. On various special auspicious days, the local religious institutions and temples in different parts of India organize a procession to honour their favourite deities. The focal point of the parade is a huge brightly decorated traditional chariot carrying the idol of the local deity. The chariot, led by traditional musical bands, is manually pulled by hundreds of over-joyed devotees, and followed by thousands of people singing devotional songs and chanting hymns. In many cases, the procession ends at the banks of the nearest river or seaside where the clay image of the deity is ritually submerged into the water.

The Rath-Yatra of Lord Ganesh in Bombay, Goddess Kali in Calcutta and Lord Jagan Nath in Puri (Orissa) are amongst the most famous ones in India. This tradition is being kept alive in Canada by the followers of the Hare Krishna movement, who replicate the Rath-Yatra of Jagan Nath Puri in Toronto. This event usually takes place in the month of July or August each year. The Parade goes down Yonge Street towards Lake Ontario and ends at the Lakeshore, but the festivities and fair continues all day at Central Island.

Book: Hindus of Canada

Author: Ajit Adhopia