Thursday marks the first day of the annual Jagannath Rath Yatra, which is a 10-day festival in Odisha, to mark the journey of the three deities — Lord Jagannath, Lord Balabhadra and Devi Subhadra — to the temple of their 'aunt', Devi Gundicha. The occasion is also called the "chariot festival".
Lakhs of people are expected to join the celebrations at the Jagannath temple in Puri as three giant wooden chariots will be pulled by devotees on their way to the Gundicha temple. The yatra spans the distance of three kilometres.
The festival ends with the Bahuda yatra, which is when the three deities of the temple return from their 'aunt's' abode. The chariots of Jagannath, Balabhadra, and Subhadra are named Nandighosh, Taladhwaja, and Padmadhwaja respectively.
"The 'pahandi' of the deities begin in the morning when the three gods along with Lord Sudarsana are taken out in a procession to their chariots parked in front of the Jagannath temple. The entire Bada Danda (grand road) reverberates with the sounds of ghanta (cymbals), kahali (type of flute), mahuri (a double reeded instrument), pakhauja (a variant of mridangam), mardal (similar to pakhawaj) and bells when the procession begins," NDTV reported.
The Odisha government has deployed 10,000 security personnel in Puri. Anticipating a congregation of around 10 lakh devotees on Thursday, a 10,000-strong force has been deployed on the ground, while personnel of Indian Navy and Coast Guard will patrol in the sea, reports said.
"We are prepared for any situation apart from VVIP security," said Soumendra Priyadarshi, the IGP, Central Range, adding that for smooth and safe conduct of the event a mock drill of pulling of chariots was also conducted.
Meanwhile, the Jagannath temple administration chief administrator PK Mohapatra said: "We have already prepared a time-line for the procession of deities and pulling of chariots. With the cooperation of all the stake-holders, rituals will go on smoothly."
"We will certainly meet the time-line given by the administration. The servitors will fully cooperate with the administration to make the festival a grand success," said Binayak Dasmohapatra, a senior servitor.
Apart from police, different state government departments like health, urban and housing development department, sanitation and others are doing their best to make the occasion a grand success, said Mohapatra.
With inputs from agencies
Updated Date: Jul 04, 2019 08:44:10 IST