Rath Yatra festival is one of the many ways in which the Hindus celebrate their religion by taking out their gods and goddesses out on a ride. Surprisingly, such celebrations are celebrated not just in India and not just by the Indians, but people from all castes and creeds across the world. In India, we have the most popular Rath Yatra in Puri. Nonetheless, Rath Yatra is now held and celebrated in over 100 cities across the globe! So, without wasting a moment, let’s trace some of the best Rath Yatra celebrations held across the world—
5. Saranagati Rath Yatra
With the pristine hills and valleys of Saranagati, Vancouver, as the backdrop, the Saranagati Rath Yatra festival is indeed a “different” chariot festival, which provides not only a deep inner peace, but also greatly rejuvenates the mind and body. Although it is held at a much smaller scale compared to the ones at San Francisco and Venice, the Saranagati Rath Yatra accompanies a day totally dedicated to kirtans and seminars along with the a grand feast which is indeed a kind of its own! Visit this place if you want a complete rejuvenation of mind, soul and body!
4. Rath Yatra, San Francisco
If you’re a devotee of Lord Krishna living abroad, but cannot come to India for some reasons, simply take a flight to San Francisco! Well, of course, you won’t savor the same taste as you do in India, but the Chariot festival at San Francisco is simply one of the best held abroad. The whole program is organized by ISKON with their trademark procession style—the devotees irrespective of caste, creeds and religions, pulling the chariot like one big family and singing, merrymaking and dancing all along their way! It’s indeed a sight to behold and an event to witness.
3. Festival of Chariots, Venice
Well, you might have known Venice as one of the most romantic places around, but this time of the year, Venice dons the religious garbs and celebrates the Rath Yatra festival in a fun, jovial and, of course, pious way! The first chariot festival was held in 1977, and it is said that elephants used to pull those giant 40 ft. tall vehicles. However, due to safety reasons and more, elephants have been replaced by large ropes, which are pulled by hundreds of people living in and around Venice. It is accompanied by rhythmic “Hare Rama, Hare Krishna” chants and of course, free food and unlimited fun! After the occasion, the chariots are parked at a nearby garden alongside the beach where a small fair takes place along with traditional Odishi Classical dance and other traditional Indian events.
2. Rath Yatra, Mayapur
Mayapur is where ISKON has its head quarters. It is a quaint little town across Nabadwip where Sri Chaitanya, Lord Krishna’s devotee who is believed to be an incarnation of Vishnu himself, was born. So, needless to say that Rath Yatra is their main festival and is celebrated with much show and pomp! Here too you’ll get to see three different chariots made for the deities and although they are made in the shadow of the Puri chariots, they are much smaller than the original counterparts. When here, you’ll get to see the women dressed alike in colorful dresses while the men will be in their dhoti kurta, and chants of “Hare Rama, Hare Krishna” in rhythmic tunes will surely sweep you off your feet! It’s magical out there, so, whether or not you’re a devotee, be there to gain the vibe! You’ll love it!
1. Rath Yatra, Puri
As usual with us, the best one is saved for the last this time too! Rath Yatra at Puri is the biggest Rath Yatra festival in the world and is believed to be the place from where the festival originates. So, naturally, people from around the world crowd around the temple since early morning to have a go at pulling the sacred rope of the chariot! The Puri-essence, the huge chariots, the humid air clubbed with sudden downpour and the cacophonous din make this event one of its kind. If you’re looking for a place worth visiting in your lifetime, do add this to your list!