The Festival’s Inspiration

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The Festival’s Inspiration
Excerpted from Back to Godhead Magazine Vol 13, No. 6, 1978

His Divine Grace A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada brought the ancient Indian Ratha-yatra, the Festival of the Chariots, to the West in 1967. That year Srila Prabhupada held the festival in San Francisco’s Golden Gate Park, and it quickly caught on all over the world. In 1969, at the third San Francisco festival, Srila Prabhupada spoke these words:

“My dear American boys and girls, I thank you very much for your taking part in this great festival known as Lord Jagannatha’s Ratha-yatra. This festival has been held every year for the last two thousand years or more in India, and in your country perhaps this is the third year we have held this great Ratha-yatra festival. We are also holding this festival in Boston, London, New York, and Columbus. The purpose for this Krsna consciousness movement is to invoke your dormant love for Jagannatha, the Supreme Personality of Godhead. Every one of us—not only human beings but every living entity including birds, beasts, and aquatics—is part and parcel of the Supreme Personality of Godhead. And just like a son has the right to inherit the property of his father, so we have the prerogative to achieve the status of our father, the Supreme Personality of Godhead. This status is called sac-cid-ananda-vigraha, Sat means ‘eternal,’ cit means ‘complete in knowledge,’ ananda means ‘bliss,’ and vigraha means ‘person.’ As we are all persons, so the Supreme Personality of Godhead is also a person, but He is very, very great. And He being the greatest, He supplies the needs of all other individual persons. We have a relationship with Lord Jagannatha, and we are meant to participate in His qualities of eternity, knowledge, and bliss.

“This inauguration of the Ratha-yatra festival will bring a new chapter in the history of the world—it is that potent. It is stated in the Vedic literature that anyone who sees Lord Jagannatha seated on this chariot will never again have to take birth within this miserable material world.”

(c) The Bhaktivedanta Book Trust International, Inc.

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Ratha Yatra Festival in Jagannath Puri

Rath-Yara-Festival-Puri

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Yesterday, July 10th, marked the start of the annual Ratha Yatra Festival of Lord Jagannatha in Jagannath Puri. Millions of pilgrims visit Jagannath Puri to participate in the Ratha Yatra car festival of Lord Jagannatha. Lord Jagannatha, along with His brother Baladeva and sister Subhadra, travel in gigantic chariots and go to the Gundicha Temple. The previous day of Ratha Yatra (i.e. July 09, 2013) devotees assemble in Gundicha Temple and clean the temple. This event is called as Gundicha Marjana. Lord Jagannath stays in Gundicha temple for a week and then comes back to His own temple. This return journey is called Bahuda Ratha Yatra (July 18, 2013).

In the Brahmanda Purana it is said, “A person who sees the Lord’s Ratha-yatra car festival and then stands up to receive the Lord can purge all kinds of sinful results from his body.” In the Bhavisya Purana, it is said, “Even if born of a lowly family, a person who follows the Ratha-yatra car when the Deities pass in front or from behind will surely be elevated to the position of achieving equal opulence with Visnu.”

In 1967, Srila Prabhupada inaugurated the Ratha Yatra Festival, the Festival of the Chariots, in western countries and thanks to him, today people all over the world observe this festival.

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