Being the neighbor of Odisha, West Bengal celebrates Rath Yatra with the same level of enthusiasm. It’s very easy to join the celebration during this time because you’ll find people are being energetic to see a glimpse of Jagannath Dev in every part of Bengal. The city of joy celebrates Rath Yatra in its own way. We’ll try to portray a vision of how Kolkata celebrates Rath Yatra.
What Is Rath Yatra?
What is Rath Yatra actually? It’s no secret that India has so many different cultures. And Indians know how to celebrate a festival with a great passion and devotion. This festival is one of them, highly adored by many pilgrims.
Rath yatra is a popular Hindu festival which is mainly based on the huge public procession. The meaning of Rath is Chariot and Yatra means journey. It is believed by Hindus that Lord Jagannath is a form of Lord Vishnu. This occasion is mainly focused on Lord Jagannath’s chariot journey with his two siblings Lord Balram and Subhadra Devi.
Puri – the city where Jagannath temple is situated celebrates Rath Yatra with great enthusiasm. This place is the heart of this festival. This beautiful festival is the biggest religious and cultural celebration in Odisha. Though it is very popular in states like Bengal, Bihar, Jharkhand and some other parts in eastern India.
Chariot Festival is very popular in West Bengal where you can easily find the warmth of celebrating this occasion. Even young kids decorate a small replica of chariots with their parents and start their own procession.
How Did Rath Yatra Start In Kolkata?
There’s an interesting history behind Kolkata’s Rath Yatra. Swami Prabhupada, a Bengali saint and the founder of ISKON, started the first Rath Yatra in Kolkata more than 100 years ago. The most interesting fact is that he was only 6 years old when he stared at this venerated festival.
After founding the International Society for Krishna Consciousness (ISKON) in 1966, Swami Prabhupada re-started the Rath Yatra festival in Kolkata. It was on 12th July 1972, which was around 70 years after his first Rath Yatra celebration here.
The huge chariot which was pulling Jagannath Dev and his siblings, Lord Baladev and Subhadra Devi was around 30ft tall. The exact replica of Jagannath Puri’s chariot was beautifully decorated and eyecatching. That Rath Yatra was celebrated with a huge enthusiasm and a procession followed behind. A lot of western devotees joined this occasion with natives, which is a very remarkable fact in the present time.
How Kolkata Celebrates Rath Yatra Now?
After 1972, ISKON has been celebrating this festival every year. It has become World’s second-largest Rath Yatra festival, only followed by Jagannath Puri’s Rath Yatra festival. Recently, the organisers are making it big with great enthusiasm. People of Kolkata join this celebration with gathering to watch a glimpse of Jagannath Dev’s holy chariot. Some join the professions with devotees.
With Rath Yatra festival, it is notable to find some people selling sweets, local snacks, household things, saplings and even some other small useful things. It’s better to say that you will even find a fair in some corner of the city, though we doubt it’s possible to find one in the heart of the city.
Rath Yatra is quite exciting for young kids. They decorate small replica of Jagannath’s chariot with their parents and make their own little procession in the neighbourhood area.
Some small organizations make Rath Yatra processions too, even some families make little processions with their chariot. Like other festivals, this city celebrates Rath Yatra with a great passion and enthusiasm. Now it’s safe to say that Kolkata really knows how to celebrate each and every festival.
Featured Image by ISKON.
Ruchira Sarkar is the founder of Hey Calcutta! An aspiring blogger and a travel enthusiast. She created this website to represent the real flavour of Kolkata and Bengali culture. Besides this blog, she typically loves books, food, and music.