BHUBANESWAR: Dimmed by the pandemic for the last two years, the celebration of Rath Yatra was a grand affair in the State Capital as lakhs of devotees poured onto the streets to pull the chariots of the Trinity on Friday. The festival was organised smoothly across the Capital. However, lack of adherence to Government's Covid safety norms remained a matter of concern in view of the rising number of new coronavirus cases.
The atmosphere in in Nayapalli and Unit VIII areas reverberated with beats of cymbals as a sea of devotees took part in the pulling of chariots at Iskcon temple. All the rituals were carried out in time as per the schedule. Dhadi Pahandi of the deities started at 11 am, while the Chherapahanra ritual was performed at 2 pm. The chariot pulling started at 3 pm and the deities reached Gundicha temple at Unit VIII by 7 pm, informed Iskcon State PRO Radhakanta Das. He said over one lakh devotees participated in the festival.
Similarly, a large number of devotees participated in Rath Yatra celebration at Patiagarh, Palaspali, VSS Nagar, Old Town, Jagamara, Dumduma and Bhimatangi.Apart from temples, the Car Festival was also celebrated in a number of educational institutions. Students and faculty members took part in the festivities on Utkal University campus. Rath Yatra was also celebrated on the premises of KISS. Children were also seen pulling mini chariots in different parts of the City including Old Town, Nilakantha Nagar and Jagannath Nagar.
Police said Rath Yatra was celebrated at over 50 places. Over 20 platoons of police force were deployed to regulate traffic and ensure smooth conduct of the festival. The Bhubaneswar Municipal Corporation (BMC) had made provision of drinking water and mobile toilet facility at Iskcon and a few other locations. While the festival passed off peacefully, Covid cautions including the mask mandate were thrown to the wind by devotees. Though BMC had issued advisory urging people to wear face masks at public places, only a few devotees were found to be adhering to the rule on the day.