Lakhs of Devotees Throng to Puri to Celebrate Rath Yatra

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Bhubaneswar: Lakhs of devotees thronged Odisha’s temple town of Puri Sunday to have a glimpse of deities on the occasion of the annual Rath Yatra (chariot festival) of Lord Jagannath, his brother Balabhadra and sister Subhadra.

Servitors bring Lord Balabhadra out of the sanctum sanctorum during the Pahandi ceremony

Servitors bring Devi Subhadra out of the sanctum sanctorum during the Pahandi ceremony

Servitors bring Lord Jagannath out of the sanctum sanctorum during the Pahandi ceremony

Gajapati Maharaja Dibyasingha Deb performs Chera Panhara (sweeping all around the deities and chariots) with a broom (gold-handled) in Puri

The festival marks the annual journey of the three deities from the 12th century Jagannath temple in three splendidly decorated wooden chariots, pulled with ropes by devotees amid chanting of hymns, to the Gundicha temple, around three km away.

The chariots of Lord Jagannath, Balabhadra and Subhadra are respectively known as Nandighosh, Taladhwaja and Padmadhwaja.

The three chariots on the Grand Road in Puri

Cultural programme during ‘Rath Yatra’ (chariot procession) in Puri

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 3.

Meanwhile, 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.