Celebrating Rath Yatra: A Journey of Devotion and Joy
The Rath Yatra, often referred to as the chariot procession, has its roots in the sacred city of Jagannath Puri. Each year, on Ashadh Sud Bij, the revered deities of Jagannath Mandir—Shri Krishna, Balramji, and Subhadra Devi—are joyfully placed in resplendent chariots. Devotees come together to lovingly pull these chariots through the streets, marking a spiritual journey of devotion and celebration.
At BAPS Swaminarayan Vidyamandir, Randesan, we observed the Rath Yatra festival on June 20, 2023, with great enthusiasm. The day's festivities commenced at 09:30 in the prayer hall with Dhun, Prarthna (prayers), and an enlightening discourse. This discourse emphasized the essence of the Rath Yatra festival, which is to seek Bhagwan's guidance in steering the chariot of our lives.
Following the spiritual session, everyone enjoyed Prasad consisting of jamun, sprouted moong, and cucumber. At 10:30, the congregation gathered at Bhakti Marg, where a murti of Bhagwan Swaminarayan graced a beautifully adorned chariot, adorned with flowers, leaves, and artificial swans. In the midst of gentle rain, the murti received sacred Pujan, accompanied by Vedic chants. Subsequently, senior women and students offered Aarti to the deity.
The chariot was then lovingly pulled through Bhakti Marg by many young girls, their devotion and joy evident in their actions. Children and youths, dressed in traditional attire, filled the air with the vibrant energy of traditional dance (Garba). In front of the chariot, several students embarked on a Cycle Yatra, adding to the festive atmosphere.
The celebration culminated with the murti of Bhagwan Swaminarayan being taken to every room in the hostels and classrooms within the school. Students extended a warm welcome to the divine guest through Ras-Garba, marking the conclusion of a delightful and inspiring Rath Yatra celebration.
This event served as a beautiful reminder of the power of devotion, unity, and joy in celebrating our rich cultural heritage.