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Devotees brave rain, humidity for Rath Yatra of Lord Jagannath

A humid morning and a heavy downpour later in the day could not prevent enthusiastic devotees of Lord Jagannath of coming out in lakhs for the annual Rath Yatra (chariot procession).

SNS | New Delhi |

A humid morning and a heavy downpour later in the day could not prevent enthusiastic devotees of Lord Jagannath of coming out in lakhs for the annual Rath Yatra (chariot procession).

As the three magnificent chariots of Lord Balabhadra, Devi Subhadra and Lord Jagannath rolled down the Grand Road of Puri, frenzied devotees rushed to grip the ropes that are ceremoniously pulled to drag the cars.

The Rath Yatra, which began much ahead of the scheduled time, was greeted by the downpour which served as a relief to thousands of devotees jostling for every inch of space to get a glimpse of the deities.

Chants of ‘Hari Bol’ and sounds produced by gongs and conches reverberated through the humid air creating a mesmerising atmosphere that was both holy and ecstatic.

The Rath Yatra, which is the only time when the deities are brought out of their 12th century temples, is a once-in-a-year opportunity for those who are barred from entering the temple on caste and religious lines.

The very sight of the three majestic and well-decorated chariots parked in front of the temple since last night was captivating. The deities were installed on the chariots after rituals associated with the bringing of the Lord in a ceremonial procession known as pahandi was completed.

Puri Sankaracharya Nischilananda Saraswati paid his respects on the chariots. He was followed by Gajapati Maharaj Dibyasingh Deo, who swept the chariot floor with a golden broom symbolising that the king is only a servant of the Lord.

The three chariots were pulled by devotees with the first sanitised ring being taken over by the security forces.

Lord Balabhadra riding the Taladhwaja chariot moved first followed by Devi Subhadra on her chariot Darpadalana and then Lord Jagannath on Nandighosha.

The wooden chariots moved on the Grand Road leading to Gundicha Temple for the annual nine-day sojourn.

Taladhwaja and Darpadalana reached Gundicha Mandir early and were parked there waiting for Nandighosha to arrive.

Chariots are not pulled after sunset and remain parked on the road before resuming the journey the next day.

Several dignitaries including Odisha Governor Ganeshi Lal, Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik and others witnessed the car festival.

As usual, a massive deployment of security forces was made and surveillance on land, air and sea routes was maintained throughout the procession.

(Statesman News Service)