Puri: Lakhs of devotees were in the pilgrim town today to witness Rath Yatra, marking the beginning of the annual nine day sojourn of the Lord Jagannath and His two siblings. The chariot pulling started ahead of schedule.
Amid religious fervour, devotees first pulled Lord Balabhadra’s Taladhwaj chariot at 2.15 pm though pulling of chariots was scheduled at 4 pm. Later devotees pulled the Darpadalan of Devi Subhadra and Nandighosa of Lord Jagannath amid spiritual fervour. The devotees will pull the chariots on the Bada Danda (Grand Road) till Gunduchia Temple, considered as Lord Jagannath’s aunt’s house, covering nearly 2.5 km distance.
Lakhs of devotees from across the country and abroad thronged the Bada Danda to catch a glimpse of the presiding deities of the 12th century Shree Jagannath shrine.
Before the sibling deities – Lord Jagannath, His elder brother Lord Balabhadra and their sister Devi Subhadra – set out from sanctum sanctorum of the temple earlier this morning, a number of special rituals like Mangla Arati and Mailam were conducted.
The three deities were taken out of the temple through the Singhadwar (Lion’s Gate) in ceremonial Pahandi procession.
Devotees started pulling the chariots after after Puri Govardhana Peeth Shankaracharya, Swami Nischalananda Saraswati had darshan of the deities on the chariots along with his disciples and Gajapati King of Puri Dibyasingh Deb performed the Chhera Panhara ritual with the ceremonial golden broom.
Governor Ganeshi Lal, Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik and other senior leaders cutting across party lines converged in the Bada Dana to witness the annual sojourn of the deities.
Elaborate security arrangements have been made in Puri for the smooth conduct of the divine event.