The concept of the chariot has been explained in the Kathopanishada in the
Atmanam rathinam viddhi sareeram rathamevatu
Buddhim tu saarathim viddhi marah pragrahameva cha.
The body is the Chariot and the soul is the deity installed in the chariot.
The wisdom acts as the charioteer to control the mind and thoughts.
Ratha Yatra, the Festival of Chariots of Lord Jagannatha is celebrated every
year at Puri, the temple town in Orissa, on the east coast of India. The Rath
Yatra is also known as Car Festival. An annual festival commemorates the
journey of Krishna from Gokul to Mathura. It also symbolizes a journey to
light from the dark, which commences on the 2nd day of the bright fortnight in
the month of Asadha (June/July). During the procession, the idols of lord
Jagannatha, Balabhadra and goddess Subhadra, the deities of the Sri Mandira,
are taken out. The mammoth wooden chariots carrying the three deities pulled
by thousands of devotees, present a spectacular scene. The three deities are
given a ritual bath on the Snan Vedi (an open platform), almost a fortnight
before the Rath Yatra. Three chariots are decorated and lined on the day
before the procession. On the day of the procession, the priests take out the
festooned idols to the chariots. The first deity to come out is lord Jagannath.
After the ceremony, Gajapati (the ceremonial king of Puri) comes and expresses
his humility before God. With a golden broom, he cleans the chariots and
showers holy water on them. After that, the procession of three deities
towards the Gundicha Temple starts. The yatra (journey) begins on the second
day of the lunar month (asadha).The main chariot is 14 meters high and 10
meters square with 16 wheels. Thousands of devotees pull these chariots to
Gundicha Mandir, a temple 3 km away. After a week, on 'Ashadha Sukla Dasami',
the 10th day of the bright fortnight of Ashadha (June-July), return journey or
'Bahuda Yatra' of the deities commences in the same manner from Gundicha
temple to the main temple like Rath Yatra. An atmosphere of almost hysterical
devotion prevails on this day and in earlier years; devotees were known to
have thrown themselves under the wheels of the rath in the hope of obtaining
Historical Significance of Rath Yatra
Ratha Yatra : Rituals and Celebrations