PURI: All through Friday morning, a public address system kept dissuading hundreds of devotees who gathered at “Aruna Stambha” in front of the Lions Gate to stay away. “You cannot go in today, the Mahaprabhu will venture out of the shrine tomorrow and appear in his Naba Joubana,” the announcement blared.
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The holy Trinity may have acquired new bodies but it would be a few hours before the thousands, who have arrived in Puri driven by their faith from across India and abroad, can catch a glimpse of the deities in their “Nabakalebara,” the first event of the century.
Disappointment written large on their faces, some devotees tried to force their way through the Lions Gate before the security personnel foiled their attempts and pushed them back. Soon they turned to the three grand chariots __ bedecked and ready for the final rollout on Saturday __ and sought to draw some divine solace by touching them.
People jostled for space on the Grand Road as the security personnel pulled the three chariots to their designated slots in front of Singha Dwar for the one last time.
As the day wore on, the beeline for the holy town grew stronger and expectedly so. Ferried in buses, passenger vehicles and trains, they trooped to the holy town and fanned out to different parts of the town giving a glimpse of the much-awaited Saturday.
Anticipating a turnout which could match the hype built around the Nabakalebara festival, the State administration virtually operated out of Puri and tried to complete all the unfinished jobs at the eleventh hour.
New road connectivity to the town were being wrapped up, special tourist police stations were unveiled and last-minute touches to the health and sanitation works were completed even as the whole town was almost taken over by the security personnel.
The Grand Road, which will eventually play host to the grandest of festivals witnessed in the country, appeared widened than before but the last minute works could not cover the glitches of the patchy works. As VIP after VIP reached the town, thousands of devotees found their way into the temporary accommodations prepared by the State Government. At the new permanent tourist complex near Puri Railway Station, hundreds bid their time waiting for Friday to get over as more people, arriving in trains, joined them.
This place is cosy and there is no apprehension of rain or sun, unlike previous years,” said Ramesh Talukdar, who arrived with his wife and toddler from 24 Praganas of West Bengal.
The 33 Nabakalebara Villages, the temporary accommodations built by the State Government in and around Puri, saw people streaming in as the evening arrived. Though not so comfortable as compared to the one built by the Railways, the accommodations cried for attention at many places.
Meanwhile, the temple administration braced for a smooth conduct of the Ghosha Yatra and tried to ensure that rituals are conducted on time. “All the nitis have been carried out on time today and we will try and stick to the schedule so that Pahandi can start at 10 am tomorrow,” Officer On Special Duty and senior IPS officer Saumendra Priyadarshi said.
While “Pahandi” is expected to be completed by 1 pm, “Chhera Panhra” may get wrapped up by 3 pm and chariot pulling will start at 3.30 pm.
Rath Yatra brings back many memories from Gujarat. Here are photos from the Rath Yatra of 2013 in Ahmedabad. pic.twitter.com/Cw8Du9mbiR— Narendra Modi (@narendramodi) July 18, 2015