|| Ratha Yatra ( ରଥଯାତ୍ରା) or the Chariot Festival is a huge Hindu festival associated with Lord Jagannath held at Puri in the state of Odisha. Ratha Jatra, the Festival of Chariot: Chariots of Shri Jagannath is celebrated every year at Puri, the temple town in Odisha, This annual festival is celebrated on Ashad Shukla Dwitiya (second day in bright fortnight of Ashad month). Three richly decorated chariots, resembling temple structures, are pulled through the streets of Puri called Badadanda. This commemorates the annual journey of Lord Jagannath, Lord Balabhadra, and their sister Subhadra to their aunt's temple, the Gundicha Temple which is situated at a distance of 2 km from their temple. This is the only day when devotees who are not allowed in the temple premises, such as non-Hindus and foreigners, can get their glimpse of the deities.
During the festival, devotees from all over the world go to Puri with an earnest desire to help pull the Lords' chariots with the help of other priests pulling the chariots with ropes. They consider this a pious deed and risk their lives in the huge crowd. The huge processions accompanying the chariots play devotional songs with drums, tambourines, trumpets etc. Children line the streets through which the chariot will pass and add to the mass chorus. The Ratha carts themselves are some approximately 45 feet (14 m) high and are pulled by the thousands of pilgrims who turn up for the event; the chariots are built anew each year only from a particular type of tree. Millions of devotees congregate at Puri for this annual event from all over the country and abroad.
The festival is also known as Gundicha Yatra, Ghosa Yatra, Navadina Yātrā, Dasāvatāra Yātrā and by a variety of other names. The presiding deities of the Jagannath Temple, Puri's main temple, Lord Jagannath, Lord Balabhadra and Goddess Subhadra, with the celestial wheel (Sudarshana Chakra) are taken out from the temple precincts in an elaborate ritual procession to their respective chariots. The huge, colourfully decorated chariots are drawn by multitude of devotees on the bada danda, the grand avenue to the Gundicha Temple (Gundicha – King Indradyumna's Queen), two miles away to the North. On their way back from the Gundicha Temple, the three deities stop for a while near the Mausi Maa Temple (Aunt's abode) and have an offering of the Poda Pitha, which is a special type of pancake supposed to be the Lord's favourite. After a stay for seven days, the deities return to their abode.
The three chariots are decorated as per the unique scheme prescribed and followed for centuries stand on the Bada Danda, the Grand Avenue.