Puri: Over 10 lakh devotees witnessed the world famous ‘Rath Yatra’ of Lord Jagannath here today with religious fervour, enthusiasm . Devotees poured into the Puri town to watch the grand ceremony and pull the three majestic and colourful chariots on the ‘bada danda’, the grand avenue.
The chariots were pulled by devotees after Gajapati Divyasingha Deb, customary king of Puri, conducted ritualistic sweeping on the wooden floor of the chariots.
The ‘pahandi’ of the deities began around 10.30 am. Before Pahandi a number of special rituals like ‘Mangla Arati’ and ‘Mailam’ were performed. 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 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.
Thereafter, the servitors fixed wooden horses to the chariots and pulling of the Taladhwaj Rath of Lord Balabhadra began by 3.54 pm.
Then, the Darapadalan Rath of Subhadra was pulled at about 4.30 pm and at last the pulling of the Nandighosh Rath was held at 5.15 pm.
None of the three Raths could reach the Gundicha temple. The deities had to spend the night on the Raths as the pulling was suspended for the day at 6.45 pm. While the Taladhwaj chariot was near the Balagandi, the Darpadalan, rested near the municipal market square. Lord Jagannath’s Nandighosh chariot halted near the Town police station.
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.
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.
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. Director General of police K B Singh said adequate security arrangements have been made for smooth conduct of the festival. “The entire town, including the surrounding of Jagannath temple, chariots, Gundicha temple and sea beach have been fortified. Over 7,000 cops, including 125 platoons of police force have been mobilized this Ratha Yatra,” 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.