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India Expedition - Jagannath Rath Yatra Festival

July 4th 2008
  • During my trip to India to explore the monsoon season I took a side venture to the town of Puri which is the site of the annual Jagannath Rath Yatra festival. The huge crowd was made up of about 500,000 Hindu devotees and believe it or not, this is half the number of previous years. Many people were unable to reach Puri due to washed out railway tracks as a result of the monsoon rains. Despite the lower numbers than usual, this year's celebration took a tragic turn when 6 people were killed during a stampede in the crowd. I was up above on a rooftop, watching the entire event unfold.
  • Go to the main monsoon storm chase page
  • Rath Yatra You Tube

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    The three chariots. The deity statues are taken from the nearby Hindu temple and placed in the chariots which are then pulled by ropes for 2km.

    Security forces had their hands full with the massive crowd.

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    The Hindu monkey god, Hanuman.

    A devotee dressed as a celebrated ancient warrior.

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    Here I am getting a taste of the chaos at street level.

    Singing, chanting, drumming, dancing... You name it.

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    Getting the ropes ready to pull the chariots.

    A sea of people.

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    Countless people, as far as the eye can see.

    Several ambulances in the middle of the crowd.

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    One of the stampede victims being carried to an ambulance on a stretcher. In total, 6 people died in the crush of bodies.

    There was an almost steady stream of injured people being pulled from the crowd.

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    At the height of the insanity, I stayed at rooftop level, watching from above.

    The chariots finally begin to move and everyone wants their turn to help pull them.