Rathayatra is celebrated by devotees of Lord Krishna all over the world after being introduced to the west in 1967 in San Franscisco by ISKCON Founder-acarya His Divine Grace A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada and his first American disciples.
The smiling figures of Lord Jagannatha, Lady Subhadra and Lord Balarama ride on three, huge, wooden chariots. They are the focus of the festival.
The deity forms are explained in this short video of His Holiness Visnujana Swami speaking in 1975.
All the way through there is melodious singing, chanting and dancing to rhythmical drums and cymbals.
The procession ends with a stage show, a festival and delicious vegetarian prasadam feast.
Throughout the entire Rathayatra festival there is constant singing and chanting of the maha-mantra.
The Kali Santarana Upanisad describes how chanting the maha-mantra is the best thing one can do for the benefit of humanity in this age.
In the Srimad-bhagavatam Canto 12 the following verse is stated:
dvapareparicaryayam kalau tad dhari-kirtanat
“My dear King, although Kali-yuga is an ocean of faults, there is still one good quality about this age: Simply by chanting the Hare Krishna maha-mantra, one can become free from material bondage and be promoted to the transcendental kingdom. Whatever result was obtained in Satya-yuga by meditating on Visnu, in Treta-yuga by performing sacrifices, and in Dvapara-yuga by serving the Lord’s lotus feet can be obtained in Kali-yuga simply by chanting the Hare Krishna maha-mantra.”
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Jaya Sri Jagannatha Swami! Jaya Sri Baladeva! Jaya Sri Subhadra Devi!
Jaya Sri Chaitanya Mahaprabhu! Jaya Srila Prabhupada!