Rath Yatra is a huge festival celebrated in Gujarat. Rath means chariot and Yatra means journey. As the name suggests, during the festival, huge wooden floats are prepared and the idols of Lord Krishna, Lord Balaram and Goddess Subhadra are placed in them. There is a stirring tale behind the commencement of the festival. According to Bhagvat Purana (Hindu scripture), Lord Krishna's maternal uncle Kansa sent Akrur to bring the Lord and his elder brother Balram, to Mathura from Gokul. When all of them were ready to leave for Mathura, the Gopis and Gopals blocked the way of their chariot.
On being consoled by the Lord, they bid him a weepy and painful
farewell. Since that day, the Festival of Rath Yatra is celebrated in
the memory of the overwhelming separation. It is observed in various
cities of Gujarat with great pomp and zeal. However, the Rath Yatra at
the Ahmedabad city of India is the biggest. Magnificent floats are
built, in which the idols are placed with great devotion. These chariots
are taken around the city in a huge procession and the floats are
decorated with garlands. The chariots follow the music bands and Bhajan
Mandlis, which sing devotional songs in the praise of the Lord.
Decorated elephants, gymnasts and acrobats performing astonishing acts
are a feast for the eyes. They are accompanied by numerous Vaishnavite
sages, headed by the Mahant of Jagannath Temple. When the procession
moves through the narrow streets of the city, people sprinkle rice and
gulal on the idols to pay their homage. The devotees participating in
the Yatra are given prasadam, in the form of raw sprouted moong beans.
Quite a number of times, the floats are hand pulled by the devotees,
crying out loud the name of the Lord. The Rath Yatra is a festival
immersed with devotional sentiments for the Lord.