Archive for the 'Ratha yatra' Category

Line drawing of the Puri Rath Yatra in 1818 conserved at the British Library: Dharitri

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Three dieties including Lord Jagannath in 32 attractive dresses: Samaja

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Ratha Yatra among the world’s top ten festivals

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The top ten according to Gap Adventures, as mentioned in a Travel Bite, UK, article, is:

  • The Indian state of Orissa holds a Chariot festival in July and sees hundreds of thousands of devotees of Jagannath – the lord of the universe – gather to perform a colourful and noisy ritual.

    In the town of Puri gigantic chariots hauled through the main street and the air is filled with the rhythmic clang of metal gongs, the blowing of conch shells and trumpets, and the chanting of holy men.

  • A combination of livestock trading and religious festivities provides a truly spectacular experience at the Pushkar camel festival in the Indian state of Rajasthan each November.

    Around 50,000 camels are sold, decorated, shaved and raced during the festival, followed by religious rituals which culminate in thousands of devotees bathing in the holy lake on the full moon.

  • Across the border in Pakistan, thousands travel to Shandur in the far north of the country for the world’s highest polo tournament.

    These polo games are not like the modern variety, applying 800-year-old rules that are cut-throat to say the least.

  • In Guatemala every March the Semana Santa festival draws thousands to celebrate the rebirth of Christ in a typically Central American combination of Catholic symbolism and Mayan tradition.

    For a whole week the people eat, drink and dance for a fruitful harvest, culminating in a sleepless three-day march of holy statues through the streets.

  • One of Mexico’s most macabre and memorable festivals takes place in the beautiful colonial city of Oaxaca – the Day of the Dead.

    This joyful honouring of the lives of deceased family members is on All Hallow’s Eve, when people decorate the graves of their loved ones with flowers, candles and even food.

    The whole community gathers with food, music and mescal (think tequila with a nasty kick) all part of the fun.

  • Inti Raymi, or the Festival of the Sun, is Peru’s most famous festival and the week-long event sees huge crowds watching ceremonial processions through the flower-draped streets of Cuzco.

    The ceremony itself takes place on June 24th, when a person representing the Sapa Inca (the emperor) calls for blessings from the sun amid a heady mix of music, prayers and dancing.

  • One of the most important festivals in Tibet is the new year celebration of Losar, held over three days in February.

    This colourful, traditional and exotic Buddhist festival features symbolic rituals performed by the yellow-hatted Tibetan lamas, followed by massive parades and fireworks meant to chase off the devils of the old year.

  • Mongolia’s Naadam festival echoes the country’s warrior past and the ‘manly games’ involve displays of the three major traditional sports in Mongolia: wrestling, horse racing and archery.

    The festival begins with a big parade down the main street of Ulaan Baatar and travellers can take the opportunity to compete in the events and stay with the nomadic herders in their tent-like ‘gers’.

  • Thousands of people gather in Kyoto each May in the hope of witnessing a rarely-seen performance of the geisha dancers of the Pontocho district.

    The Kama-gawa Odori festival has been held since 1872 on the banks of the Kamo-gawa river and is one of Japan’s most celebrated spring geisha dances.

  • For something completely different attend the world famous Calgary Stempede in Canada in July, celebrating rhinestone, country music and wide-open spaces.

    The rodeo competition, stage shows, concerts, chuckwagon races and pancake breakfasts held all over the city during Stampede Week offer fun for all.