Puri: With all the divine power in force the Rituals and Nitis of the Annual Rath Jatra completed much before the scheduled time and in a very high charged spiritual atmosphere, which never happened in the recent past.
All the three holy chariots reached Saradhabali in Puri before evening. It seems that Lord Jagannath and His siblings Lord Balabhadra and Devi Subhadra were in a hurry to meet the sea of devotees, who were allowed to participate in the festival after a gap of two years.
Braving the humidity, lakhs of devotees pulled the chariots of Lord Balabhadra, Devi Subhadra and Lord Jagannath. The rituals of deities on the day were started at 3 am and completed ahead of schedule.
As per the tradition, ‘Pahandibije’ (grand procession of the deities from inside the temple to their chariots) began at 6.15 am amid blowing of conches, beating of cymbals and slogans in praise of the Lords.
Adorned with tahias (giant floral crowns), the three holy deities along with Lord Sudarsan were brought out of the sanctum sanctorum in the ceremonial Pahandi procession to their chariots parked before Srimandir.
Puri Shankaracharya Swami Nischalananda Saraswati accompanied by his disciples and servitors offered prayers to the deities on their respective chariots.
Then started the ritual of ‘Chhera Pahanra’ (sweeping the floors of the chariots). Puri King Gajapati Dibyasingha Deb performed the ritual of sweeping the chariots with a golden broom.
Pulling of chariots started at around 12.38 pm much ahead of the scheduled time of 4 pm and all three deities reached Saradhabali by evening.
Taladhwaja chariot of Lord Balabhadra was the first to reach Gundicha temple, the destination of the sibling deities’ annual sojourn. Devi Subhadra’s ‘Darpadalan’ Rath was the next to reach the temple. ‘Nandighosh’ chariot of Lord Jagannath was the last to reach Gundicha temple.
The first day of the Rath Jatra passed off without any major untoward incident with participation of an estimated 10 lakh devotees who came from across the country.
After a gap of two years, Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik also visited Puri to witness the biggest festival of Odisha. State Governor Ganeshi Lal, the CM, Union Minister Dharmendra Pradhan and Orissa High Court Chief Justice S. Muralidhar pulled the chariot of Lord Jagannath in the morning. Union Ministers Ashwini Vaishnaw and Bishweswar Tudu and several state ministers visited the pilgrim town to witness the yatra.
“It is my privilege to pull the chariot of Lord Jagannath. May the Lord bless all. Jai Jagannath,” Mr.Patnaik said in a tweet.
Tight security arrangements have been put in place for smooth conduct of the festival and devotees can have safe darshan of deities, said Odisha DGP Sunil Bansal.
More than 180 platoons of police personnel, including 1,000 officers of various ranks are deployed in and around Puri to ensure safe conduct of the festival. The police made special arrangements for smooth flow of traffic.
The Rath Jatra also celebrated in various other places of Odisha including Bhubaneswar, Baripada, Keonjhar and Koraput with participation of thousands of devotees.