Rath Yatra: Puri witnesses Grand spectacle of Lords’ sojourn

This Rath Yatra is considered unique as all three rituals of Netra Utsav, Nabajaubana Darshan and Rath Yatra are being held on the same day. A similar celestial arrangement occurred 53 years ago, in 1971.
Ceremonial procession of Lord Jagannath from the main temple to his chariot Nandighosa.
Ceremonial procession of Lord Jagannath from the main temple to his chariot Nandighosa.Photo | EPS

PURI: The Grand Road at Puri, the venue for Lord Jagannath, Maa Subhadra and Lord Balabhadra's Rath Yatra, turned into a sea of devotees on Sunday, with pilgrims from all across the country arriving in the city to witness the Lords’ annual sojourn to Gundicha temple.

With this being the first Rath Yatra organised by the BJP after coming to power in Odisha, the devotees included President Draupadi Murmu, Chief Minister Mohan Charan Majhi and all his Cabinet Ministers, Union Ministers Dharmendra Pradhan and Ashwini Vaisnav, and party MPs and MLAS.

The ruling party also invited former chief minister and Leader of Opposition Naveen Patnaik, who obliged and arrived for a brief period to take part in the biggest religious festival in the state. Naveen was welcomed with a loud cheer from the devotees waiting near the chariots.

After greeting the president, chief minister and others, Naveen went down to the chariot of Lord Jagannath and offered his prayers.

Since early morning, the three-kilometre Grand Road stretch has been teeming with pilgrims and the crowd only grew as the day progressed.

This Rath Yatra is considered unique as all three rituals of Netra Utsav, Nabajaubana Darshan and Rath Yatra are being held on the same day. A similar celestial arrangement had occurred 53 years ago, in 1971.

As the Rath Yatra this year is being held as per the 1971 schedule, when there was no Nabajaubana Darshan and Pahandi, the ceremonial procession of the three deities started at around 11 am and was completed an hour before the fixed schedule this time.

While Sudarshana was brought out of the temple at around 11.15 am, this was followed by the ‘Pahandi’ of Lord Balabhadra, Devi Subhadra and at the end, Lord Jagannath was brought to his Nandighosha chariot before 1 pm. The Shree Jagannath Temple Managing Committee and Chhattisa Nijog had earlier decided to begin the ‘Pahandi’ at 1.10 pm.

After the Trinity were taken atop their chariots, Shankaracharya of Puri Swami Nischalananda Saraswati visited the three chariots along with his disciples and offered prayers.

This was followed by the ‘Cherra Pahanra’ ritual, which is the ceremonial sweeping of Taladhwaja, Darpadalana and Nandighosa chariots with a golden broom by Gajapati of Puri Maharaja Dibyasingha Deb.

The pulling of the first chariot—Taladhwaja—began at 5 pm, as per the schedule. The pulling of Taladhwaja was underway until the filing of this report.

Senior servitor Ramakrushna Dasmohapatra said they are hopeful of two of the chariots reaching Gundicha Temple on Sunday, while the remaining one will be pulled on Monday. Chariots will not be pulled after sunset.

The Puri administration put in place several measures for smooth conduct of the Grand festival. Close to 450 organisations came forward to distribute free food, water and glucose among devotees.

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