Rath Yatra is derived from two Sanskrit words, Rath, which means chariot or carriage, and Yatra which means journey or pilgrimage. In other Indian languages such as Odia, the phonetic equivalents are used, such as jatra.
The Rath Yatra of Puri, also rendered as the Rath Jatra is considered the oldest and largest Hindu chariot festival celebrated annually, on the bright half of the lunar month of Ashadh. The festival is held at the city of Puri in the state of Odisha, India and associated with the deity Jagannath.
In the Rath Yatra, the three deities are taken from the Jagannath Temple in the chariots to the Gundicha Temple, where they stay for nine days. Thereafter, the deities again ride the chariots back to Shri Mandir in bahuda jatra. On the way back, the three chariots halt at the Mausi Maa Temple and the deities are offered Poda Pitha, a kind of baked cake which are generally consumed by the people of Odisha.
During the Jagannath Rath Yatra, the triads are usually worshiped in the sanctum of the temple at Puri, but once during the month of Asadha (Rainy Season of Odisha, usually falling in month of June or July), they are brought out onto the Bada Danda (main street of Puri) and travel (3 km) to the Shri Gundicha Temple, in huge chariots allowing the public to have darśana . This festival is known as Rath Yatra, meaning the journey (yatra) of the chariots.
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