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Debabrata Mohapatra | TNN | Puri | Jul 4, 2019:: Two months after Cyclone Fani ravaged it along with other coastal districts, this pilgrim town is back on its feet to again celebrate the annual nine-day Rath Yatra as big as in the past.
On Thursday, Puri, which bore the brunt of the cyclone, will welcome with open arms tens of thousands of people arriving here to witness the beginning of the chariot journey of Lord Jagannath and his siblings, Balabhadra and Subhadra, from the Temple of Jagannath to the Gundicha Temple, their birth place.
Contrary to fears that the calamity might rob the Rath Yatra of its sheen, Puri was restored to its original glory on a war footing.
The damaged hotels, too, are back in business.
“We have made foolproof preparations to host the mega festival. All requisite infrastructure and tourist amenities are in place.
The devotees will have a smooth stay during the Rath Yatra,” Puri district collector Balwant Singh said.
The Puri district administration on Wednesday gave finishing touches to the massive preparations. The Grand Road was packed with devotees on the eve of Rath Yatra. Buoyed by favourable weather, thousands descended on the road with chants of ‘Jai Jagannath’ filled up the air as cymbals, flutes and drums played out.
“I am excited to have a darshan of the deities. Since we (non-Hindus) are not allowed inside the temple, the Rath Yatra is a big occasion for us,” said Guruprava Dasi, an American devotee of the International Society for Krishna consciousness (ISKCON).
More people are expected to come, from across India and abroad, to catch a glimpse of the deities as the chariots carrying the sibling deities move among a sea of humanity during the Yatra, pulled by the devotees.
Director general of police R P Sharma said adequate security arrangements have been made for smooth conduct of the festival. Temporary CCTV cameras have been installed across Puri as the permanent ones were damaged in the cyclone. “At least 155 platoons of police, including rapid action force (RAF), will be mobilised for crowd control, traffic management and security of pilgrims and VIPs,” Sharma said.
Courtesy: TOI and DD (National).