On Sunday, the 140th Rath Yatra of Lord Jagannath saw the three chariots returning peacefully to the Jagannath temple late evening after covering around 15 kilometre-long route,
This procession passed through the communally sensitive walled city area amid tight security. The annual festival of Rathayatra in Odisha involves a public procession with a chariot with deities Jagannath (Vishnu avatar), Balabhadra (his brother), Subhadra (his sister) on a ratha, a wooden deula-shaped chariot. It is the oldest Ratha Yatra taking place in India and the World and attracts over a million Hindu pilgrims who join the procession each year!
There were cries of ‘Jai Jagannath’ in the air as the wheels of the giant chariots began rolling down. Chariots were towed from Shree Jagannath Temple to the Mausima Temple.
They were pulled by hundreds of police personnel with support from devotees after Gajapati Divyasingha Deb, customary king of Puri, conducted ritualistic sweeping on the wooden floor of the chariots.
Three majestic chariots — Nandighosa (Lord Jagannath), Taladwaja (Balabhadra) and Darpadalan (Subhadra) — were kept ready before the 12th century Jagannath Temple in Puri. The Chariot Festival marks the annual journey of the three deities from the 12th century Jagannath temple, in the chariots, to the temple of Devi Gundicha, their aunt. This is why the deities go on a nine-day sojourn to the Gundicha Temple. The celebration ends nine days later with Bahuda Yatra or the return journey of the three to their temple.
A lot of arrangements have been made to ensure a smooth conduct of the festival. The Odisha government has made several transportation facilities to ferry the devotees.The Indian Railways has decided to run 186 special trains during the festival and hundreds of police personnel have been positioned in designated areas to ensure safety of the attendees.