The Annual Rath Yatra Festival at Jagannath Puri commemorates the summer vacation of Lord Jagannath, with His elder brother Balabhadra and sister Subhadra, from the Main Sri Jagannath Temple in Puri, India to a neighboring temple, Gundicha Mandir. A glimpse of Lord Jagannatha on the chariot is considered to be very auspicious and scriptures have repeatedly glorified the sanctity of this special festival. The sanctity of the festival is such that even a touch of the chariot or even the ropes with which these are pulled is considered enough to confer the results of several pious deeds or penance for ages. Devotees from ISKCON centres all over the world, enthusiastically participate every year. The Skanda Purana glorifies the sanctity of the Rath Yatra in the following words- Gundicha mandapam namam jatrahamajanam pura Ashwamedha sahasrasya mahabedi tadadvabat. Those who are fortunate to see the deities of the Srimandira in the Gundicha Temple, the final destination of the procession of the chariots, derive the benefits of a thousand horse sacrifices, an immensely pious deed.
Hare Krishna Dham Houston and Char Dham Temple extended an invitation to all Houstonians to attend Lord Jagannath’s Rath Yatra Festival and Parade, also known as Festival of Chariots, in downtown Houston @ Discovery Green on Saturday, July 13, 2013. For the first time the ratha yatra is being made accessible to all local Houstonians by The Hare Krishna Dham Houston, and SKAI Foundation, underscoring the fact that Jagannath is Lord of the Universe. This ancient and sacred festival is a celebration of the cultural diversity of Houston hoping to improve interfaith tolerance, unity & understanding.