The Rath Yatra Fair - A Riot of Colours
Festival

The Rath Yatra Fair – A Riot of Colours

Friday evenings come with a laid-back mood. People usually make plans to meet friends after work or watch a movie or try out a new place in town or spend time with family and so on. This Friday, while talking to Tathagata over the phone after lunch, we decided to go to the Rath Yatra fair.

The entrance to the Rath Yatra fair at Salt Lake City
The entrance to the Rath Yatra fair at Salt Lake City

Rath Yatra is a significant 7-day tradition where Lord Jagannath, Devi Subhadra and Lord Balabhadra travel to their aunt’s in 3 beautifully decorated chariots. This marks the beginning of the festival which ends with them returning on the 7th day.

From left to right - Lord Jagannath, Devi Subhadra and Lord Balabhadra
From right to left – Lord Jagannath, Devi Subhadra and Lord Balabhadra

 

The beautifully decorated chariot (Rath)
The beautifully decorated chariot (Rath)

 

Puja decorations
Puja decorations

People celebrate these 7 days by organizing fairs in different parts of the city. These fairs house stalls of junk jewellery, clothes, decorative stuff, furniture, books, kitchen equipment etc.

Decorative trinkets all around
Decorative trinkets all around

 

Junk jewellery
Junk jewellery

Two of the major attractions of the fair are food and rides like Ferris wheel, My Fair Lady, Cups & Saucers, Pirate Ship and more.

Ferris Wheel and food
Ferris Wheel and food

It’s a riot of colours as far as your eyes can stretch. A constant wave of people floats in and out of stalls loaded with trinkets, smiles and squealing kids. The smell of freshly fried junk food lures you in further. The occasional rain brings out colourful umbrellas. The entire fair ground seems to effervesce with enthusiasm.

Malai kulfi
Malai kulfi

I love going to the fair. So we went thrice! We bought some jewellery and ate a lot.

Here’s what we ate:

  • Bhetki (fish) butter fry
  • Jilipi (A sweet dish)
  • Steamed chicken momos (dumplings)
  • Fish fry
  • Malai kulfi (in picture above)
  • Pav bhaji
  • Baklava
  • A Turkish cupcake

Now you must be taken aback by the last two food items. So were we. I’ll tell you how that happened.

The Rath Yatra fair isn’t essentially witness to an intermingling of cultures, but thankfully, it isn’t averse to it. So, as we were walking, we found this tiny Turkish stall tucked away behind another food stall. It was easy to miss. 4 people manned the store. A Turkish family of 3 and an Indian man to help them with communication.

Baklava and other assortments at the Turkish sweet stall
Baklava and other assortments at the Turkish sweet stall

The stall was deserted when we walked up to it. The Turkish man greeted us with a smile. Tathagata had his eyes fixed on the baklava. What I liked is that the man explained how it is made. His wife had made it and it tasted really really good. She smiled when we thanked her. Then the man told us that they were visiting India on vacation and were intrigued by the Rath Yatra fair. So, they decided to put up a stall and create sweet dishes for the visitors. Isn’t it nice?

The chef herself
The chef herself

I like looking at the world this way – where people communicate through food, through simplicity, through smiles and through a heart full of love.

This is why I love going to the fair. With so many people around, you never know what you will spot tucked away in a corner somewhere.

Ronita

I love lazy mornings, tea, the smell of old books and oxblood staircases. I can eat red velvet cake (with cream cheese frosting) all day. Over time, I’ve realized that there’s more to Red Velvet than just cake.

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