PURI: With hours to go for commencement of Rath Yatra, the annual sojourn of Lord Jagannath, all roads are leading to Puri. The Pilgrim Town was already teeming with devotees from across the world even as hectic final arrangements were being made to ensure smooth conduct of the festival.The Holy Trinity is all set to descend from the temple on Saturday morning to give darshan to the devotees and board the Raths (chariots) for Gundicha temple, their aunt’s abode. In accordance with rituals, the three chariots, all decked up in their resplendent beauty, were drawn from the construction site and parked in front of Singha Dwar, the temple’s main gate in the evening.
On Saturday morning, the priests will prepare the Raths after receiving the ‘Ajna Mallya’ from the Lord. Purohits will perform the consecration yagna for purification of the chariots before the deities board them. The specific Nitees (rituals) of the deities like mangala arati, mailam and vesha would be conducted followed by rosha homa and Surya puja.
Gopal bhog and Khichidi bhog will be offered to them before they start their journey.The ceremonial Pahandi is scheduled to begin by 9.30 am. After the deities are installed on seats in their respective chariots, Gajapati Dibyasingh Dev will perform the Chhera Pahanra at about 2 pm.
Invite to seer
Gajapati Dibyasingh Dev along with the Law Minister Pratap Jena on Friday called on Sankaracharya Swami Neeschalananda Saraswati in his Gobardhan mutt and invited him to the Rath Yatra. Gajapati also called on Governor Ganeshi Lal in the Puri Governor House. The Governor too called on the Sankaracharya in his mutt.
Sankaracharya of Govardhan Peeth Swami Neeschalananda Saraswati will then offer prayer on the Raths following which the wooden horses will be fixed and devotees allowed to pull the chariots. The deities will return in the same manner and style after spending nine days in the aunt’s house. Over 10 lakh devotees are expected to converge in Puri on Saturday to take part in the Rath Yatra. With Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik personally supervising the arrangements, there has been no let up in efforts for smooth conduct of the festival. Puri has been shrouded in heavy security with 140 platoons of armed police personnel including officers of various ranks deployed in and around the town. Three companies of Rapid Action Force (RAF), 10 platoons of Special Operations Group (SOG), scores of life guards, hundreds of home guards have also been pressed into service.
The town has been put under extensive CCTV surveillance with special measures for railway station. The Railways has announced to ply 186 special trains to Puri for the nine-day festival. Naval and Coast Guard vessels would patrol the Puri coast. Elaborate steps have also been taken to ensure uninterrupted power supply, water, essential commodities besides health services during the festival.