History of Rathayatra

The History of Rathayatra.

Rathayatra was brought to the western world by His Divine Grace A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada in 1967. In fact the Ratha Yatra festival has a long history going way back.

“The Skanda Purana states that Ratha-yātrā began a few billion years ago in Satya-yuga during the reign of Svarocisa Manu, the second of the fourteen Manus.

Every year Lord Jagannatha enacts the Ratha-yātrā (Mahavedi Yatra) in order to see His appearance place at the Yajna Vedi in the Gundica Mandira. (Skanda P. 29.25-44)

In Orissa (India), the Ratha-yātrā festival is known as Jagannātha’s journey to Guṇḍicā. Although outsiders call it Ratha-yātrā, the residents of Orissa call it the Guṇḍicā-yātrā in honor of Gundica Devi, King Indradyumna’s queen, who purportedly initiated this festival.

The songs of many Oriyan poets state that Ratha-yātrā started with the request of King Indradyumna’s wife named Gundica.

Ratha-yātrā is also known as the Patita Pavana Mahotsava because non-Hindus get the opportunity to see Lord Jagannatha. This auspicious darsana cleanses all sins and grants liberation.”

(‘Jagannatha Puri Guide Book‘ by Mahanidhi Swami)

Rath Yatra in Jagannatha Puri, Orissa

Modern day Rath Yatra in Jagannatha Puri, doesn’t look that different to the one from hundreds of years ago.