PURI: Cries of ‘Jai Jagannath’ and ‘Haribol’ echoed on Puri sea beach as lakhs of people welcomed the first day of 2023 by offering prayers to the rising sun on Sunday. While several tourists celebrated ‘zero hour’ in hotels, others remained on the six km stretch of the beach in the town till the wee hours. The revellers took a dip in Mahodadhi early in the morning before offering prayers to rising sun. They then proceeded towards Sri Jagannath Temple to have darshan of the Trinity. The Sri Jagannath Temple Administration had rescheduled the rituals on the day to facilitate the large number of devotees who thronged the shrine.
The temple was closed for devotees at 10 pm on Saturday for ‘pahuda’ (slumber of the deities) and was opened at 1 am on new year’s day. Devotees were allowed darshan of the Trinity after priests performed ‘mangal arati’, ‘abakash’, ‘mailum’, ‘tadap laagi’, ‘rosahoma’ and ‘suryapuja’.Devotees who spent the night on Badadanda went through barricades from Municipal Market Square to Singhadwar.
The exit from the shrine was through three gates. Police personnel distributed drinking water bottles among devotees waiting in queue in the barricades.The police had a tough time regulating vehicular traffic in the town. At the beach, the life guards saved several people from being washed away in the tidal wave.
Sources said one person was admitted to the district headquarters hospital after being rescued by the life guards.
Ministers Tusarkanti Behera, Tukuni Sahu, Puspendra Singhdeo, MP Achyuta Samant, BJP national spokesperson Sambit Patra and local MLA Jayant Kumar Sarangi too had darshan of the deities. Sixty platoons of police including officers of various ranks were deployed for safe and smooth conduct of the new year’s celebrations in the town. Collector Samarth Verma and SP K Vishal Singh looked after the arrangements.
Meanwhile, the restriction over carrying smartphones into the temple came into effect from new year’s day. As per the new rule, temple officials and servitors are not allowed to carry smartphones into the shrine. While servitors can carry ordinary keypad phones, only the temple security chief is allowed to have a smartphone for administrative purposes.