Puri, July 14: Lakhs of devotees on Saturday thronged this pilgrim town in Odisha to witness the annual Rath Yatra of Lord Jagannath and his siblings.
On this day Lord Jagannath and his two siblings — Lord Balaram and Goddess Subhadra — visit their aunt at the Gundicha Temple around three kilometres away.
They travel to Gundicha temple on three giant wooden chariots that are pulled by the devotees.
The rituals for the nine-day chariot festival began early on Saturday amid loud chants of Hari Bola and beating of cymbals.
The Pahandi (ceremonial procession) of the deities began as the devotees waited outside the 12th century shrine to have a glimpse of the Trinity.
The deities were carried out of the sanctum sanctorum to take part in the ceremonial procession.
The Pahandi began with the idol of Lord Sudarshan being escorted to Goddess Subhadra’s chariot.
He was followed by Lord Balabhadra who is taken to his chariot Taladhwaja in the ceremonial procession. Then, Goddess Subhadra to her Darpadalan chariot.
The ‘Pahandi’ of the cynosure and darling of the crowd Lord Jagannath starts last as the devotees wait with baited breath to have a glimpse of the Lord of the Universe, who comes out from his heavenly abode to bless the people waiting. They waited on the grand road braving the torrential rain.
Jagannath was escorted to Nandighosh chariot amid ceremonies.
After the deities were placed on their respective chariots, Puri Gajapati Divyasingh Dev performed ‘Chhera Panhara’ on the chariots. Then the chariot would be pulled by the devotees.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Odisha Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik on Saturday wished people on the occasion of Ratha Jatra.
“Greetings on the auspicious occasion of Rath Yatra. With the blessings of Lord Jagannath, may our country scale new heights of growth. May every Indian be happy and prosperous. Jai Jagannath!,” tweeted the Prime Minister.
Similarly, Odisha Chief Minister wished for development of the state and prosperity of one and all with the blessings of the Lord.
“Warm wishes on occasion of holy #RathYatra. May Lord Jagannath guide us on path of peace, prosperity and unity,” tweeted Patnaik.
The Rath Yatra is an annual celebration, marking the annual journey of the deities. The celebration culminates with Bahuda Yatra or return journey to their temple from the Gundicha Temple.
Odisha Director General of Police R.P. Sharma said adequate security arrangements have been made for the smooth and peaceful conduct of the Rath Yatra.