Puri, Jul 4: The three km long Grand road in this pilgrim city today turned into an ocean of human as over a million devotees from across the country thronged this abode of Lord Jagannath to participate the annual Rath Yatra.
The bright coloured and flower decorated three chariots with magnificent look took the three presiding deities Lord Jagannath, his elder brother Lord Balavadra and their sister Devi Subhadra from their original abode to Gundichan temple, the birthplace.
All four gates of the temple besides Jaganmohan, Natamandop and Bhogmandop top were decorated with flowers.
As soon as Lord Jagannath came out of the Simhadwar (main gate of the temple) in Pahandi procession swinging his giant floral tiara atop his head devotees chanted religious hymns while “Hari bol, Jai Jagannath” and “Huluhuli” rented the air.
They jostled to have a glimpse of Jagannath in pahandi. The sky was thick overcast and humidity was very high.
As per the schedule, early Thursday morning servitors performed Mangal arati, mailum, abakash, Surya puja and dressed deities and then khichdi bhog was offered.
Thereafter deities were escorted in pahandi by the Daita servitors one after another with elder brother Balabhadra first followed by sister Subhadra and Lord Jagannath in the end.
Traditional temple musicians in concert playing cymbals, ghantas, mridang, conch shell and bugles led the Pahandi procession. Odissi dancers added more colours to it.
The entire festival schedule was advanced by more than one hour. While Pahandi scheduled at 9.30 am started by 8.15 am and pulling of chariots was fixed at 4 pm started rolling down on the Grand road by 2.15 pm.
Sankaracharya Swamy Neeschalananda Saraswati of Puri Govardhan Perth came to rathas and offered prayers while Gajapati Dibyasingh Deb performed chhera pahanra ceremony (sweeping around the deities on the three chariots with a gold broom).
After fixing wooden horses lord Balabhadra the elder brother began the journey riding Taladhwaj chariot at 2.10 pm. and sister Devi Subhadra in her Darpdalsn chariot followed him at about 3 pm. Lord Jagannath in his Nandighosh Rath began a journey at 3.50 pm.
The trinity who began their nine-day sojourn from the lion's gate of the Sri Jagannath temple reached their destination, the Gundicha temple, the lord's aunt place before the sunset,
Odisha Governor Geneshi Lal, Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik, Odisha Assembly Speaker S N Patro, ministers Nabakishore Das, Sameer Ranjan Dash, Arun Sahu, Pratap Jena, Divya Shankar Mishra, pulled the chariots.
State chief secretary Aditya Prasad Padhi, DGP RP Sharma were also present.
About ten thousand police personnel were deployed beside RAF, ODRAF, NDRF, bomb disposal units and 250 CCTV cameras were installed in the city to monitor the pilgrim crowd movement.
A special integrated control room functioned to regulate the vehicular traffic. Security in air, water and land was ensured by civil aviation, Navy and coast guard and marine police respectively.
Additional DGP Sanjeeb Panda and five IGPs besides chief administrator of temple P K Mahapatra, district magistrate Balwant Singh and superintendent of police Umashankar Dash were looking after the festival arrangements.
About forty truckloads of flowers were used to decorate all four gates, Jagamohan, Bhogmandop and Natmandop of the main temple beside the three chariots while the entire complex of Gundicha temple was also decorated with flowers. (UNI)