By Swami Harshananda
Rathotsava literally means ‘festival of the temple chariot’.
The biggest festival organised in any temple is called ‘brahmotsava’. It is generally spread over a number of days. The rathotsava is an important part of this festival and is usually held two days before the conclusion of all the ceremonies.
The ratha is a replica of the temple. It is richly decorated along with the utsavamurti and taken around the important streets of the town. It is halted in certain specified places so that the common people can offer their worship almost at their door-step. Ratha is drawn by the devotees. No distinction is made of caste or creed. There are number of religious rites connected with the rathotsava which should be observed scrupulously.
- The Concise Encyclopedia of Hinduism, Swami Harshananda, Ram Krishna Math, Bangalore