Sea of humanity that the World famous Rath Yatra of Lord Jagnnath attracts every year was conspicuous by absence for the second year in a row, as the annual ritual of Lord Jagannath and his divine siblings-Lord Balabhadra and Devi Subhadra in the pilgrim town of Puri was marked by devotee-less affair amid raging pandemic health crisis.
A multi-layer security ring has been put in place to ensure smooth conduct of the festival while CCTVs cameras were installed at various locations. Tightening the security, authorities have deployed 65 platoons of forces for the incident-free observance of the annual festival. All entry points to Puri, the abode of Lord Jagannath, have been sealed to stop outsiders’ entry. The officials authorized and assigned duties are allowed entry into the town.
The grand ceremony and pulling of the three majestic and colourful chariots on the “Bada Danda”, the grand avenue in front of the 12th century Jagannath temple shrine is set to commence today in the afternoon hours.
As three chariots- Lord Balabhadras Taladwaja, Lord Jagannaths Nadighosh and Devi Subhadras Darpadalan, is set to roll on the grand road, spiritual fervor grips the State as devotees glued to the television sets watch the majestic march of the deities in live telecast.
In a precautionary measure, the servitors who either tested negative for Covid-19 or fully vaccinated are being allowed to participate in pulling of the chariots. Like last year, the festival has been made a devotee-fewer affair this time also in accordance with Supreme Court order, said officials.
The Shankaracharya of Puri Govardhana Peeth Swami Nischalananda Saraswati had a darshan of the deities on the chariots along with his seven disciples in view of restrictions.
Thereafter, the Gajapati King of Puri Dibya Singh Dev proceeded to the chariots to perform the “Chhera Panhara” ritual by sweeping the platform with a golden broom.
The chariot pulling will commence in the afternoon when the selected sevayats will pull the ‘Taladhwaja’ the chariot of Lord Balabhadra, followed by ‘Darpadalan’, the chariot of Devi Subhadra. The “Nandighosh’, the chariot of Lord Jagannath will be pulled later.