Ratha Jatra: Pulling of chariots commence in Odisha’s Puri

Puri: The Bada Danda in Odisha’s Puri turned into a sea of humanity today during the annual Ratha Jatra of Lord Jagannath and his siblings– elder brother Balabhadra and younger sister Subhadra as lakhs of devotees thronged the pilgrim town to witness the chariot festival.

Amid chants of ‘Jai Jagannath’ and ‘Hari Bol’, devotees started pulling chariot of Lord Balabhadra around 2.15 pm after fixation of wooden horses to the three chariots. Pulling of the three majestic chariots will conclude at the Gundicha Temple here, which is considered as the aunt’s place of the deities.

Earlier, ‘Chherapahanra’ ritual was performed by Gajapati Maharaja Dibyasingha Deb on the chariots.

‘Pahandi’ ritual of the deities began around 8.45 am with Lord Sudarshan being taken to the chariot of Devi Subhadra. Later, Lord Balabhadra, Devi Subhadra and Lord Jagannath were taken to Taladhwaja, Darpadalana and Nandighosa chariots, respectively in a ceremonial procession by the temple servitors.

The deities will go on a nine-day sojourn to their aunt’s house and return to Srimandir after completion of nine days on the day of ‘Bahuda’.

The state administration has made elaborate arrangements for the smooth and peaceful conduct of the festival. It would be a challenge for the administration to accommodate the tourists in the pilgrim town, which was devastated by cyclone Fani that hit the coastal district on May 3.

Inspector General of Police, S. Priyadarshi said that elaborate security arrangements have been made for the festival. Two additional Director General of Police (DGP), five Inspector General of Police (IGP) and scores of officers have been tasked with supervising the arrangements.

Besides, over 10,000 police personnel have been deployed while CCTV cameras have been installed on the grand road for the security of devotees. The Indian Coast Guard will look after air and sea surveillance during the festival.

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