The festival commemorates the memories of Karishna’s return to his native town, Virndavan, after a long separation from his people. In Hindi Rath means chariot and Yatra means pilgrimage. This annual festival is celebrated on Ashadha Shukla Paksha Dwitiya (second day in bright fortnight of Ashadha month).
During this festival people worship Lord Karishna, Baladiva and their sister Subhadra. The worship is not limited to the temples, but takes to the streets so that everyone can see the richly decorated chariots. Devotees from all over India and beyond participate in the huge procession with a desire to touch the rope of the chariot.
For them it’s a virtuous act. Temple shaped chariots are carried to the Gundicha Temple in a huge procession where devotees play religious songs with drums and tambourines. Since 1968, the Rath Yatra has become common in the big cities of the world through the ISKCON Hare Krishna movement.
It is celebrated in over 108 cities of the world. These cities include: Moscow, New York, Houston, Atlanta, London, Rome, Mumbai, Karachi, Berlin, Perth, Florence, Mexico City, Paris, Oslo, Dhamrai, Lima, Los Angeles, Madrid, and Santiago etc.
The festival gives a unique opportunity to Non-Hindus and foreigners who cannot visit the temples during the routine rituals to get a glance of these chariots. In 2008, approximately 10 million people visited Puri to attend the festivities of Rath Yatra. Ever year millions of people are expected to gather in Puri to perform their rituals for Rath Yatra.