Two major Hindu festivals were celebrated last month at the Hindu Temple of Central Indiana, 3350 N. German Church Rd., Indianapolis. Rath Yatra was celebrated on July 10 and Bahuda Yatra on July 18.
The celebrations were the first for the Jagannath Association of Indiana in two years. The 2020 celebrations canceled because of the COVID-19 pandemic.
“It was a great event for the Indian diaspora (in Indiana) with approximately 400 people attending,” Aswini Kumar Behera, a Fishers resident, stated in an email.
Rath Yatra means “chariot festival.” It is a nine-day event that, according to congregation member Shriya Una, “celebrates the annual journey of three Hindu deities, Lord Jagannath, Lord Balabhadra, and Goddess Subhadra, to their aunt’s place in grand chariots.”
Rath Yatra has been celebrated for nearly 5,000 years and originated in Puri, a coastal city in the Indian state of Odisha, 309 miles southwest of Kolkata.
The festival showcases the three deities outside of the temple, adorned in bright clothes, on brightly colored chariots that are paraded around by the congregation. In Puri, the deities travel to a different temple, Gundicha Temple, for nine days before returning to their original home.
“This event was quite significant to the Indian community as it was a day to come together, enjoy each other’s company and get a glimpse of Odisha culture and what it represents,” Madhab Nayak, a festival organizer, stated in an email.