Orrisa comes alive in the month of June and July because this is the time when the famous Jagannath Rath Yatra takes place in Puri. People from all across Orrisa and from various parts of India come to take part in this auspicious occasion. Orrisa witnesses the inflow of about 7 to 10 lakhs of pilgrims during this Car Festival. Foreigners also enthusiastically participate in the Jagannath Puri Rath Yatra.
The Jagannath Temple of Puri is one of the four most famous holy pilgrimages of the Hindus. The procession commemorates the journey of lord Krishna to Mathura, leaving behind grieving Gopis. The massive procession begins at Jagdish temple in Jamalpur. The main chariots are dedicated to lord Krishna, his brother Balaram and sister Subadhra, followed by colourfully decorated elephants, trucks, motor vehicles, pilgrims on foot, acrobats and gymnasts. The significance of this procession is that Lord Jagannath, his brother and sister makes a visit at the garden house, Gundecha Ghar, for five days, also visiting his aunt on the way. At the end of the five days, the three siblings are brought back to the Jagannath temple in a procession called the Ultarath.
The entire Ratha Yatra is a symbolic humanisation of God. All rituals associated with the festival demonstrate an attempt to bring the God down from His pedestal of glory to a more human level. On the day of journey the three chariots the yellow coloured Nandighosa, blue coloured Taladwaja and Deviratha are lined up in front of the temple and then the deities are brought on to their respective Chariots. Once the king of Puri sweeps the chariots with scented water and golden broom, the pilgrims lined up with the rope pull the chariots on the Badadanda to Gundicha Ghar.
Though this festival time is very special in India, the main Rath Yatra takes place in the holy town of Puri. At other places, those devotees of Lord Jagannath Temple, who cannot make it to Puri, take out similar processions on a much smaller scale. Notable are the ones at Ramnagar (near Varanasi), Serampore (near Calcutta) and Jagannathpur (near Ranchi).