SAMBALPUR: Rath Yatra was celebrated with religious fervour across the district on Sunday. With at least one Jagannath temple dotting the landscape in each gram panchayat in the district, the car festival is celebrated with pomp and gaiety. In fact, many believe that the district houses the maximum number of Jagannath temples in the State.
Altogether, there are 220 Jagannath temples in the district, including 27 temples in Sambalpur city. Of the 27 temples, the car festival was celebrated at 25 places located in different parts of the city. Unlike in Puri where each deity has a separate chariot, all the three deities here are seated in one Rath.
During Rath Yatra celebration in Sambalpur, rituals are performed as per the tradition prevalent in Jagannath Temple in Puri. But care is taken to conduct the rituals only after their completion in Puri.
Similarly, chariots are pulled only after the Raths in Puri roll out and hence, the journey begins usually in the late afternoon and continues till night unlike in Puri where the chariots are not pulled after sunset.
Apart from Brahmapura Temple, the oldest Jagannath temple of the district, the car festival was also celebrated in Mohantypada, Kunjelpada, Hatpada, Daleipada, Nandapada, Budharaja and Mudipada besides other areas of the city.
The city dwellers thronged the temples to witness the festival.Rath Yatra is also an important occasion for new-born babies. Parents take the babies to the chariot where they are made to touch the Trinity. The tradition is locally known as ‘Rath Chhuan’. It is believed that by observing this ritual, the body of the baby gets purified.