Lakhs of people attend Rath Yatra of Lord Jagannath at Puri

Lakhs of people attend Rath Yatra of Lord Jagannath at Puri

Lakhs of people attend Rath Yatra of Lord Jagannath at Puri
With overnight rains stopping, an estimated nine lakh devotees witnessed the world famous 'Rath Yatra' of Lord Jagannath here today with religious fervour, enthusiasm and a spirit of camaraderie amid tight security.

Devotees from across the country and abroad descended on this seaside town to witness the nine-day journey of Lord Jagannath, Lord Balabhadra and Devi Subhadra to the Gundicha Temple and back to their abode.

People from all walks of life made a beeline to have a glimpse of the presiding deities of the 12th century shrine of Lord Jagannath as the trinity mingled with the sea of humanity during the annual festival of chariots. There were rains overnight, but the weather cleared in the morning.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi, Odisha Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik, BJP president Amit Shah, Petroleum Minister Dharmendra Pradhan and other dignitaries greeted the people on Lord Jagannath's annual car festival.

Enthusiasm and excitement ran high among devotees as the deities remained indoors since 'Snana Purnima' on June 9.

'Naba Jaubana Darshan' of the deities was performed yesterday as they remained confined to "Anasara Pindi" (recovery chamber) after the grand bath on 'Snana Purnima'.

The rath-yatra was also celebrated at Ahmedabad in Gujarat amid tight security as lakhs of devotees flocked the 15-km journey route to catch a glimpse of Lord Jagannath, Lord Balabhadra and their sister Devi Subhadra.

Rains failed to dampen the spirit of the devotees pulling the rope of decked-up chariots of Lord Jagannath in the annual 'Rath Yatra' hosted by the ISKCON in Kolkata.

In the absence of West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee, who is on a tour to The Hague on UN invitation, state panchayat and PHE minister Subrata Mukherjee, Kolkata mayor Sovan Chatterjee and Trinamool Congress MP Subrato Bakshi flagged off the procession.

Gujarat Chief minister Vijay Rupani and Deputy Chief minister Nitin Patel performed 'Pahind Vidhi'- a symbolic ritual of cleaning the way for the chariots.

The chariots of Lord Jagannath, his brother Balbhadra and sister Subhadra, then started the journey from the 400-year- old Jagannath Temple in Jamalpur area this morning.

Before the rath yatra commenced, BJP president Amit Shah performed 'mangla aarti' of the deities in the temple during the early hours.

Rath yatra was also celebrated at other places in Odisha like Balasore, Paralakhemundi and Bolangir.

With lakhs of people thronging the holy town of Puri, the police made elaborate security arrangements by deploying around 4,000 personnel, besides extending air and coastal surveillance.

A multi-layer security net was built to ensure smooth conduct of the festival while CCTVs were installed at various locations, Odisha Director General of Police K B Singh said.

Besides the newly raised Odisha Swift Action Force (OSAF), personnel of Anti Terrorist Squad (ATS), Rapid Action Force (RAF) and sharp shooters were deployed at vital points while the Coast Guard kept a vigil along the coast.

Devotees poured into the seaside town to watch the grand ceremony and pull the three majestic and colourful chariots on the 'bada danda', the grand avenue.

Before the presiding deities - Lord Jagannath, his elder brother Lord Balabhadra and their sister Devi Subhadra - set out from the sanctum sanctorum of the temple, a number of special rituals like 'Mangla Arati' and 'Mailam' were performed.

Descending from the 'Ratna Sinhasana', the bejewelled throne, the three deities were taken out of the temple down the 22 steps known as "Baisi Pahacha" through the Lion'sgate in an elaborate ritual called "Pahandi" as devotees and sevayats jostled to have a glimpse and touch them.

In a rhythmic style, the deities moved forward step by step to the accompaniment of beating of 'ghantas' and 'kahalis' and blowing of conch shells. The trinity proceeded majestically in rhythmic movement in their journey to the world outside during 'Pahandi'.

At first, Sudarshana, the celestial wheel of Vishnu, was taken out and placed in the chariot of Devi Subhadra followed by Lord Balabhadra and finally Lord Jagannath.

The 45-feet high 'Nandighosh', the chariot of Lord Jagannath stood with 16 huge wooden wheels, while the 44-feet high 'Taladhawaja' with 14 wheels was for Lord Balabhadra and Devi Subhadra's 'Darpadalan' was 43-feet high with 12 wheels.

The Shankaracharya of Puri Govardhana peeth Swami Nischalananda Saraswati had a darshan of the deities on the chariots along with his disciples.

Thereafter, the Gajapati King of Puri Divyasingh Dev proceeded to the chariots to perform the 'Chhera Panhara' ritual by sweeping the platform with golden broom.

As the chariots rolled down the grand avenue, the proceedings were watched by millions including a host of VVIPs and dignitaries, while buildings on both sides of the road were occupied by thousands of people vying for a proper view.