Odisha: Full Jagannath Rath Yatra opens today after two years
As the nine-day annual Jagannath Rath Yatra begins on Friday, the enthusiasm among the devotees in Odisha's Puri is palpable. The three chariots will be pulled in front of the iconic Jagannath temple in the holy town in full public view for the first time in two years as devotees were denied entry in 2020 and 2021 due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
- The Rath Yatra is one of the most prominent Hindu festivals that takes place every year on the second day of the Shukla Paksha in the months of June or July.
- This year the nine-day festival begins on Friday.
- The splendor and the grandeur of the festival are unparalleled and the three huge chariots are drawn by a multitude of devotees in Puri.
Nearly 10 lakh pilgrims are expected to participate in the festival in the holy town. People of religions other than Hinduism, especially foreigners, who are denied entry into the 12th-century shrine will also line up for a darshan of the holy trinity, Lord Jagannath, Lord Balabhadra, and Devi Subhadra. Security has been heightened to avoid any untoward incident during the mega event, officials said.
A special ritual called Agnya Mala Bije, which means 'with due permission of the Lords', was followed after the chariots were pulled for parking in front of the Lion's Gate of the temple from the chariot-making yard. The air in the temple town reverberated with Jai Jagannath (Hail Jagannath) chantings, the beating of cymbals, and the blowing of conch shells.
The Shree Jagannath Temple Administration schedule mentions that the deities will be brought to chariots in a ceremonial procession at 9:30 am and the procession will be completed by 12:30 pm. The titular king of Puri, Gajapati Maharaja Dibyasingha Deb will perform Chhera Pahnra (sweeping of three chariots) from 2:30 pm to 3:30 pm. The pulling of the chariot will start at 4 pm.
Nearly 180 platoons of armed police personnel, including 1,000 officers are deployed, while around 50 CCTV cameras in Grand Road and other places will ensure the safe conduct of the festival. "Our trained personnel will be ready both in the Grand Road and also in the sea beach to intervene in any possible untoward incident," DGP, fire service, Santosh Kumar Upadhyay said.
Renowned sand artist from Odisha, Sudarsan Pattnaik made a magnificent sand art on the Puri beach with the message, "On this Rath Yatra, let us pledge to Say no to single-use Plastic". Pattnaik, who made 125 sand chariots, added, "This time we have created 125 sand chariots to mark the holy rath yatra of Lord Jagannath. It will be our new world record."
The presiding deities of the Jagannath Temple with the Sudarshan Chakra (celestial wheel) are removed from the temple in a ceremonial procession to their chariots. The chariots are drawn to the Gundicha Temple. On their way back, the deities stop near the Mausi Maa Temple (Aunt's abode) and have an offering of the Poda Pitha. The deities return to their abode after seven days.