The famous RATHA-YATRA Festival of the Chariot is the modern perpetuation of the world’s oldest religious celebration. Now, this age-old festival, is re-enacted yearly in over 50 cities world-wide. Every June for more than 2000 years, over one million pilgrims have congregated in the sacred town of Jagannatha Puri (in Orissa, Eastern India) to celebrate this joyful grand procession of Lord Jagannatha, Lord Krishna’s majestic feature as the “Lord of the Universe”, along with His brother, Lord Balaram, and sister, Sri Subhadra, each mounted on Their massive ornate chariots.
The procession starts at the ancient Jagannatha Mandir, His magnificent temple in Puri, which is over 2000 years old and stands as one of the greatest monuments within the perennial Vaisnava culture. To understand the deeper meaning of this unique divine manifestation of Lord Jagannatha worshipped since those ancient times, a deep theology is thus revealed in fascinating details within the ancient Vedic history of Skanda Purana.
The Ratha-Yatra festival commemorates the historic meeting of Lord Krishna with His loving associates of Vrindavan (His pastoral childhood home), who all thus rejoiced to be again reunited with Him. This enchanting form of Lord Krishna as Lord Jagannatha has been thus worshipped through this ancient colorful event, as an external celebration to invite the Lord into the core of our hearts, and thus reawaken our dormant loving service to Him.
Since 1967, when the first western Ratha-Yatra was celebrated by the disciples of His Divine Grace A.C.Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada in San Francisco, this ancient and colorful festival has gone all around the world and is now celebrated by ISKCON annually in over 50 cities world-wide.
This year marks the 34th consecutive celebration of this joyful festival in Montreal.