Bhubaneswar: Lakhs of devotees thronged Odisha’s temple town of Puri Saturday to have a glimpse of deities re-embodied after 19 years on chariots on the occasion of the annual Rath Yatra (chariot festival) of Lord Jagannath, his brother Balabhadra and sister Subhadra, officials said.
The festival marks the annual journey of the three deities from the 12th century Jagannath temple in three splendidly decorated wooden chariots, pulled by devotees, to the Gundicha temple, around three km away.
The festival ends nine days later when the deities make their way back home to the Jagannath temple. The return journey, known as Bahuda Jatra, will be organised July 26.
A glimpse of the deities is considered auspicious and around a million devotees throng to attend this annual procession. The chariots are pulled with ropes by devotees amid chanting of hymns.
The state government has made elaborate security arrangements with about 10,000 policemen deployed across the town to maintain law and order and prevent any untoward incident.
Hundreds of policemen have been deployed at the beach and about half a dozen closed circuit security cameras have also been installed at various places.
Similarly, bomb detection and disposal squads and fire tenders have been engaged to meet emergencies.