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HENB | Puri and Delhi | July 6, 2016:: An estimated 10 lakh devotees witnessed the world famous ‘Ratha Yatra’ of Lord Jagannath today with religious fervour, enthusiasm and a spirit of camaraderie amid tight security.
Lakhs of devotees from across the globe descended on the pilgrim town to witness commencement of the nine-day journey of Lord Jagannath, Lord Balabhadra and Devi Subhadra to Gundicha Temple and back to their abode.
As the clock struck 1.50 pm, the huge contingent of sevayats hauling Lord Jagannath atop his chariot Nandighosha, decked up in spectacular yellow and red, let out a cry of ecstasy sending the sea of humanity into a frenzy.
The Lord had finally mounted his “rath,” the last one to do so among his divine siblings. The Holy Trinity are now ready for their annual sojourn. With an unprecedented security cover thrown around Puri, the Rath Yatra of Lord Jagannath, Lord Balabhadra and Devi Subhadra kicked off with religious fervour on Wednesday. The morning rituals were conducted smoothly and the “pahandi bije” of the deities marked a religious frenzy with devotees dancing, singing amidst the chants of hymns and beating of the cymbals. Almost all the “nitees” were carried out on time and the chariot-pulling is expected to be conducted at the scheduled 3.30 pm after the ritualistic “chhera panhara” by Puri King Dibya Singh Deb is completed.
As the dawn broke, all roads led to Grand Road (Bada Danda) which was chok-a-bloc with pilgrims from across the globe. Braving the sweltering conditions, devotees streamed into the sea-side town to catch a glimpse of the grand spectacle. Govenor SC Jamir, Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik and senior Ministers are at Puri to witness the festival anticipating a huge turn-out, the State Police pressed in a whopping 140 platoon force with anti-terrorist, anti-sabotage and quick reaction teams placed at vantage points. Surveillance cameras have been installed and senior police officers, led by DGP KB Singh, are monitoring the smooth conduct of the festival.
There are many tales of the Rath Yatra of Lord Jagannath – Lord of the Universe. One says that the doting brothers, Krishna and Balaram took their sister Subhadra to see splendid sights in the city. Another tale goes that Narad spotted the three siblings standing spell-bound & listening to Rohini’s stories of Krishna and blessed that they will be worshiped forever, in this very form. But, the tale of King Indradumnya to get the blessings of Lord in a dream and the making of the deities of Lord Jagannath, Lord Blabhadra and Mother Subhadra as initiated by Lord Bishwakarma is the famous of the trail. The great Gaudiya Vaishnava Bhati movement pioneer Lord Chaitanya participated also in this millennium old Car Festival in Puridham.
To ensure that there is no chaos during the rituals conducted after the deities are mounted on the chariots; the Sri Jagannath Temple Administration issued ID cards to designated servitors and personnel. Puri Collector Arvind Agarwal said, barricades have been put at different places to allow devotees to touch the chariots. While over 30 devotees fell sick due to the humid conditions, the Health Department pressed in 83 ambulances to shift the indisposed. Health Secretary Arti Ahuja was personally monitoring the health services at Puri.
The 139th rath yatra of Lord Jagannath on Wednesday commenced on it’s 15 km journey in the walled city in Ahmedabad amid tight security arrangements even as lakhs of devotees queued up to have a glimpse of the deity.
The chariots of Lord Jagannath, his brother Balbhadra and sister Subhadra commenced their journey from the 400-year-old Jagannath temple in Jamalpur after Gujarat Chief Minister Anandiben Patel performed ‘Pahind Vidhi’ – a symbolic ritual of cleaning way for the ‘raths’ (chariots).
BJP chief Amit Shah visited the temple at around 4 am and took part in the ‘Mangla Aarti’.
The procession of rath yatra comprises 18 decorated elephants, 101 trucks, around 30 religious congregations and around 20 singing troupes. It will move through some communally sensitive areas like Jamalpur, Kalupur, Shahpur and Dariyapur.
The total length of rath yatra procession stretches up to 1.5 km. It will return to the temple after almost 11 hours of journey.
Elaborate security arrangements have been made by police department to avoid any unwarranted situation.
Gujarat Minister of State for Home Rajni Patel was present at the temple to supervise the arrangements.
“Though we have not received any specific terror input, such large events are always on the target of anti-social elements. Thus, we have deployed large number of police and para-military personnel to ensure safety and security of citizens,” Patel said.
Earlier in the day, Prime Minister Narendra Modi greeted the people on the occasion of Rath Yatra. “May the blessings of Lord Jagannath lead to development of villages, well-being of poor & farmers and take India to new heights of progress.
On the occasion of Rath Yatra, my warmest greetings to you all. May Lord Jagannath continue to shower his blessings on everyone,” he tweeted. Vice president of AICC Rahul Gandhi also sent his wishes. “My best wishes to everyone on the occasion of Rath Yatra. May Lord Jagannath’s blessings bring happiness & prosperity for all,” his official Twitter handle said.
As many as 700 CCTV cameras, including night vision cameras, have been installed at various locations along route by the police to keep a close watch on each and every movement. We are also using Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (UAVs) for surveillance,” Bhatt said.
Personnel manning the yatra include 9 IG and DIG level officers, 33 Superintendents of Police (SPs), 81 Deputy SPs, 250 Police Inspectors, 900 Police Sub Inspectors, 8,000 constables, 5,600 Homeguards and 1,500 recruits undergoing training.
Today lakhs of chariot festivals commence in India’s every villages, cities and urban areas and also world wide in most of the capital cities (excluding the fundamental Islamic Countries) of Europe, America and Australia.
Ratha Yatra in Puri is an outstanding example of cultural assimilation of the four major sects of Sanatan beilivers viz. Shaiva, Shakta, Saurya and Viashnava in this mammoth confluence of Hindus in an unity in diversity indeed.