Odisha is a land of festival. The spirit of fun and fiesta of Odisha finds the roots in the fascinating lifestyle of Odisha people.Rathajatra or the car festival is the most gorgeous festival in Odisha. It is a sacred festival of the Hindus. Generally, this festival occurs in the month of June-July (Ashar) every year. On the day of the festival, the wooden images of Lord Jagannath, elder brother Balaram, and sister Subhadra are decorated and placed in a chariot. The chariot is made of wood with wheels to roll on. There are wooden horses on the front slightly above the surface. A strong and thick rope is tied to the chariot. It is then drawn by a large number of devotees. At that time people offer fruits and sweets to the two gods and the goddess inside the chariot. They believe that if they can have a sight of those images, they would be absolved form all their sins and will not be born again on the earth. The chariot is drawn to a temple which is popularly called Masir Bari at a little distance. It remains there for seven days. Then the return journey (Punarjatra or Ultorath) takes place in a festive manner. The chariot is then drawn back to the place from where it began its journey and the gods and the goddess return to their temple.
The car festival is observed in a grand manner at Puri in Odisha. A lot of pilgrims go to the Jagannath Temple at Puri on this occasion. Some other places are also noted for the Rathjatra festival. The car festivals of Mahesh and Mahishadal in West Bengal are also very famous. The day is declared as a holiday and offices, schools and colleges remain closed in Odisha and West Bengal. The Railway authorities arrange special trains for the pilgrims to Puri in Odisha.
Fairs are held in many places on this occasion. A lot of people visit these fairs and varieties of things are sold there. Women and children are very fond of going to these fairs. Women buy many necessary articles of everyday use, and children buy toys, fruits, sweets, etc. Thus these fairs and festivals have got much social and economic importance.