Ahmedabad Rath Yatra (Gujarati: જગન્નાથ રથયાત્રા), the annual Chariot Festival is a Hindu festival associated with Lord Jagannath which takes place in Ahmedabad, Gujarat.
Ahmedabad Rath Yatra coincides with the Rath Yatra taking place in Puri, Orissa, both taking place on the second day in bright fortnight of the Hindu calendar month of Ashadha (Ashadha Shukla Dwitiya) which often falls in the month of June – July in the Gregorian Calendar.
The Ahmedabad Rath Yatra has been taking place for more than 130 years now and in terms of popularity, the Ahmedabad Rath Yatra stands next to the Puri Rath Yatra festival.
In case of Ahmedabad Rath Yatra, the chariots of Lord Jagannath, his enter brother Balabhadra and sister Devi Subhadra roll out from the 400-year-old Lord Jagannath temple in Jamalpur area of the city travelling across the city and then moving back to the temple in evening, covering a distance of about 14 kms.
Thousands of devotees turn on to the streets to have a ‘darshan’ of the deities and also watch the magnificent procession.
Ahmedabad Rath Yatra Rituals & Celebrations :
A fortnight before the Rath Yatra, on the Purnima (full moon day) of the Hindu month of Jyeshtha, the bathing ceremony of Lord Jagannath (Jal Yatra) takes place.
For this Jal Yatra ceremony, deities Jagannath, Balabhadra, Subhadra, Sudarshan, and Madanmohan are brought out from the Jagannath Temple and taken in a procession to the Sabarmati river for a holy bath.
Thousands of devotees with copper pots on their heads participated in the traditional Jal Yatra procession which features around 18 – 20 decorated elephants.
After the bath, the idols of Lord Jagannath, Balabhadra and Devi Subhadra are taken to Ranchhodji Temple in Saraspur area of the city after which they return to the Jagannath Temple for Maha Abhishek that was witnessed by thousands of His devotees.
According to the tradition, Chief Minister of Gujarat State, attends the ‘Mangla Aarti’ (first puja of the day) performed in the temple early this morning. Chief Minister then performs the ‘Pahind’ Ceremony (symbolic cleaning of roads before the Rath Yatra).
The Rath Yatra starts early in the morning at around 7 am with departure of the chariots, takes a halt at Saraspur in the noon and the chariots return back to the temple at around 8:30 pm in night.
During the halt at Saraspur, ‘Maha Bhoj’ is offered by the locals to the entire entourage of devotees of Lord Jagannath who are part of the Rath Yatra.
Apart from the Chariots of Lord Jagannath, Balabhadra and Devi Subhadra, the other main attraction of the Ahmedabad Rath Yatra is the procession of caparisoned elephants. Around 18 – 20 caparisoned elephants lead the procession. These decorated elephants take part in almost all the important rituals associated with the Ahmedabad Rath Yatra.
Another important feature of the Ahmedabad Rath Yatra is the participation of Akhada Sadhus and Mahants and the numerous floats with different themes which follow the chariots of the deities.
Importance of Rath Yatra :
There is a saying “rathe ca vamanam dhrstva punar janma na vidyate” which means that a person who sees Lord Jagannath on the Chariot on the auspicious day of Rath Yatra attains salvation from the cycle of birth and death, i.e., he attains moksha or goes to swarg. Hence the annual Ahmedabad Rath Yatra festival attracts millions of devotees not only from Ahmedabad, but from all parts of Gujarat.
Devotees of Lord Jagannath who cannot make it to Puri for the Jagannath Rah Yatra, often try to make it to Ahmedabad for the Jagannath Rah Yatra, as this one is comparatively less crowded.
The Ahmedabad Rath Yatra is the second oldest and second largest Rath Yatra festival after the Rath Yatra festival in Puri.
Ahmedabad Rath Ratra 2018 Date :
In 2018, the Ahmedabad Rath Yatra will take place on Sunday, 14th July 2018.
It will be the 141th Ahmedabad Rath Yatra.