Every year, millions of Hindus in India and abroad celebrate the Rath Yatra Festival with great joy and devotion. Devotees prepare colourful, decorated raths (chariots) ranging in size from small to enormous.
On 21 June 2012, thousands of devotees gathered at the BAPS Mandir in Ahmedabad to celebrate the Rath Yatra festival in the divine presence of Pramukh Swami Maharaj. As Swamishri emerged from the lift onto the mandir precincts, he was greeted by two balaks attired as Lord Jagannathji. Then, as he proceeded towards the main mandir, he was flanked by balaks in sadhu costumes playing drums. In front was Shri Harikrishna Maharaj seated on a small intricately decorated motorized rath, which Swamishri operated by remote control. In the background, vibrant bhajans and music enriched the festive ambience. Every vantage point had been occupied by the devotees for darshan. On the front podium of the mandir, Swamishri performed pujan and arti of Shri Harikrishna Maharaj. Then, the murti of Shri Harikrishna Maharaj was placed in the large, decorative, hand-pulled rath on the mandir grounds. Swamishri then waved a BAPS flag from the mandir podium to initiate the Rath Yatra. Senior and other sadhus pulled the rath around the perimeter of the mandir as Swamishri looked on. In front of the rath were dancing groups of children and youths in traditional costumes and devotees in traditional attire. The mandir grounds echoed with melodious bhajans and joyous singing as thousands of devotees enjoyed this divine darshan.