Bhubaneswar: Braving the scorching sun, thousands of devotees turned up at the 11th century Lingaraj Temple at the capital city of Bhubaneswar today, to pull the chariot.
The festival is observed on the eighth day during the waning moon phase in Chaitra month as per the Hindu calendar, also known as Ashokashtami. It precedes the famous car festival of lord Jagannath held in June or July every year at Puri.
Before the Rath Yatra, the priests of Lingaraj Temple brought the bronze images of all the three deities Chandrasekhar (the incarnation of Lord Lingaraj), Rukmini and Basudeva and installed them on the chariot amidst loud beats of gongs, blowing of conchs and chanting of hymns.
It is noteworthy to mention that this is an annual festival in which the deities take the chariot and travel a distance of about 2 kms to reach the Mausima Temple where they will stay for 5 days.
Elaborate security arrangements were made for the smooth functioning of the festival. Apart from this, steps were taken to ensure availability of water and shade with the prevailing heat wave condition in mind.
Photograph Contribution by Sitakanta and Nabin