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Ashokastami (Rukuna Ratha Yatra)

Ashokastami alias the Car festival of Lord Lingaraj is the annual festival celebrated on the eighth day of the month of Chaitra (March/April) with great enthusiasm. It is one of the most important festival of Lingaraj Temple, where the idol of Lord Lingaraj is carried on a decorated chariot from the main temple to Rameswar temple (also known as Mausi Maa Temple) and returned after four days after the ritual bath in the Bindu-Sarovara tank. Large number of devotees gathered here to attend the festival and pay homage to the deity.

The origin of Ashokastami is associated with an old legend. Lord Ramachandra, failed in all his efforts to kill Ravana who was protected by Goddess Kali and according to the advise of Ravana's younger brother Vibhisana, Rama decide to propitiate the Mother Goddess. Rama prayed to the goddess for long seven days with elaborate rituals and pleased her. When the goddess support was withdrawn from Ravana, Rama could easily kill him with 'Brahmastra', the unfailing weapon. To celebrate the victory, Rama took out Shiva and Durga, in a chariot and from that day onwards the festival is being observed.

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