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                                                           Rath Yatra

              Rath Yatra Festival in Gujarat

In many cities of Gujarat like Amdavad, Surat, Bhavnagar, etc, glorious processions are carried out annually with devotional fevour and joy. The Jagannath Mandir in Amdavad organises a yatra through the walled areas of the city. People make kaleidoscopic Raths and floats of various materials mounted on trucks. This year many youth and religious organizations in the city of Amdavad constructed ninety-eight Raths, which followed the Jagannath Mandir's fifteen decorated elephants. 

Onlookers and devotees thronged the narrow alleys, buildings and balconies, patiently awaiting up to three hours for the 5-km-long colorful procession to pass by at a sedate pace. When the chariots with the murtis arrived, people ritually sprinkled rice and gulal powder as a form of puja.

 The participants sitting in these raths liberally handed out fistfuls of prasadam of raw, sprouted mung beans. Children were given sweets and confectionary. Finally, at the rear were three raths of Subhadra, Balaram and Lord Krishna. These were all hand-drawn and pushed by devotees. 

The flurry and festive excitement was enhanced by the jubilant chanting of `Jai Ranchhod Makhan Chor'. Indra, the god of rain, too arrived to participate! It has been noted that sometime during the Rath Yatra, usually late afternoon or early evening, he sprinkles a light shower, never a heavy downpour, sanctifying the occasion.

The festival of Rath Yatra is celebrated at all the Swaminarayan Mandirs of the BAPS. Every year the center in Calcutta celebrates it on a large scale with colorful floats pulled by devotees and dignitaries.

 This year the Satsang center in Surat carried out a procession of eight floats with 15,000 devotees joyously chanting the Lord's name. The 1.5 km long procession inspired reverence and devotion in thousands of bystanders and pedestrians.

The Rath Yatra is a festival suffused with devotional sentiments for the Lord. For over five thousand years, Hindus have celebrated this spectacular festival. Gathering together, they earnestly pray to the Lord to steer the chariots of their mundane lives through the vicissitudes of Samsara.