Rath Yatra or Rath Jatra is the name of the massive Chariot Festival of Lord Jagannath Ji celebrated with much passion and religious fervor in the holy land of Puri. Annually celebrated to honor Lord Jagannath Ji -- the presiding deity of the town, this great and notable Chariot Festival lasts for around eight to ten days.
The Rath Yatra festival is also referred to as Gundicha Jatra, Ghosa Jatra, Navadina Jatra or Dasavatara Jatra. This year it falls on 21th June,2012.
• Lord Jagannath puri had a desire that he should be taken to his birthplace every year for about a week. For this reason the deities are taken to the Gundicha Mandir on a yearly basis.
• Another legend is that sister Subhadra visited Dwarka to meet her parents. She was taken to that place by her brothers. The festival is held to commemorate that event.
• Based on the Bhagvad Purana, it was on this particular day that Krishna along with Balaram went to Mathura for a wrestling match on invitation of Kansa.
The festival observes a huge procession of decorated idols of Lord Jagannath, his sister Subhadra and brother Balbhadra or Balrama. All the deities are seated on separate chariots with the Lord adorning the most massive one.
One of the unique features of this chariot bearing the Lord, other than its grand size of 14 into 10 meters, is that it is pulled by devotees rather than the horses. The ropes of this chariot are considered to be the threads of salvation.
The festival which now happens on an annual basis in places all over the world in over 100 cities including Dublin, Belfast, Birmingham, London, Bath, Budapest, Melbourne, Montreal, Paris, New York, Singapore, Toronto, Antwerp, Kuala Lumpur and Venice, CA.
The Rathajatra in Dhamrai, Bangladesh is one of the most important in Bangladesh.