PURI: The historical Rath Yatra came to an end with the Holy Trinity - Lord Jagannath, Devi Subhadra and Lord Balabhadra - entering the sanctum sanctorum of Srimandir in a special ritual called Niladri Bije on Saturday. This was for the first time in the history of the 12th century shrine that the 12-day festival that started on June 23 with the Holy Trinity going on a sojourn to Mausi Maa temple, was held without devotees.
The three towering chariots - Nandighosa, Taladhwaja and Darpadalana - of the deities were pulled to Gundicha temple and brought back to the Sri Jagannath temple in Bahuda Yatra by servitors amid a thick security cover provided by police personnel. A day after ‘Adhar Pana’ was offered to the deities on their chariots, rituals for homecoming of the deities began early on Saturday morning with the Mangala Alati. After ‘Madhayana Dhupa’ in the noon, ‘Bahuda Pahandi’ of the deities began at 4.30 pm.
Idols of Rama Krushna and Madan Mohan were taken inside the Srimandir first and subsequently, Lord Sudarshan, Lord Balabhadra and Devi Subhadra were ushered into the sanctum sanctorum in Pahandi. Lord Jagannath was the last one to enter the Garbhagriha at 7.45 pm but His entry was not as smooth as the others. As per tradition, His ‘Goti Pahandi’ was obstructed by His consort Goddess Mahalaxmi as She was annoyed at being left behind in the temple.
There was a heated exchange of words between the servitors of Lord Jagannath and the Goddess. Lord Jagannath was let in only after He offered Rasagolla and a saree to His wife to appease Her. With curtains coming down on the much-awaited festival of Odias, both State Government, police and Puri administrations have heaved a sigh of relief. Shrouded in uncertainty till the ninth hour, Supreme Court allowed conduct of the annual festival a few hours before the fete.
But with Covid-19 tests of 1147 servitors within 12 hours, the Grand Road was all set for the three chariots to roll. Only one among the servitors was tested positive and barred from pulling the chariots. Similarly, Covid tests of servitors were conducted before Bahuda.
Millions of devotees and followers of Jagannath culture watched the spectacle on their TV sets, mobile phones and computers as State Government facilitated live telecast and streamed all the rituals during Rath Yatra, Bahuda, Niladri Bije, Suna Besha and Adhar Pana. In the past, at least five lakh devotees participated in the Rath Yatra of the Trinity at Puri.