Rath Yatra: Chariots reach Puri's Gundicha temple

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Puri, Jul 8 (PTI) The chariots of the sibling deities, Lord Jagannath, Lord Balabhadra and Devi Subhadra, reached the Gundicha temple on Monday, with which the first leg of the Rath Yatra celebrations in Odisha's Puri concluded.

Thousands of people pulled the chariots, while lakhs of devotees gathered on the roadside to watch the procession on 'Badadanda' amid heat and humidity.

The 'yatra' began on Sunday evening, but halted a few metres later due to sunset. It resumed the 2.5 km journey from the 12th-century shrine to the Gundicha temple around 9.30 am on Monday and concluded at 2.35 pm.

The three majestic chariots will remain outside the Gundicha temple on Grand Road. The deities will be taken inside the temple on Tuesday in a ceremonial procession. The deities will remain at this temple for a week.

"The chariots have reached their destination. We have put cordons around the three chariots and are regulating the crowd. Adequate traffic arrangements have been made for smooth flow of vehicles," said DGP Arun Sarangi, who also participated in pulling the chariots.

Rath Yatra is a two-day affair this time, after 53 years, due to celestial arrangements.

In a departure from tradition, some of the rituals, including 'Nabajouban Darshan' and ‘Netra Utsav’, were held on Sunday. These rituals are generally held ahead of the Rath Yatra.

'Nabajouban Darshan' means the youthful appearance of deities, who were behind the doors for 15 days in a ritual called 'Anasara' (quarantine), held after 'Snana Purnima'.

According to mythology, the deities fall ill due to excessive bathing on 'Snana Purnima' and therefore remain indoors.

Prior to 'Nabajouban Darshan', the priests performed a special ritual called 'Netra Utsav' in which the eyeballs of the deities are painted afresh.

Tight security arrangements have been put in place with the deployment of 180 platoons (one platoon comprises 30 personnel) of security personnel, Superintendent of Police Pinak Mishra said.

Artificial intelligence-based CCTV cameras have been installed at 'Badadanda', the venue of the festival, and other strategic locations in the pilgrim town, police said. PTI BBM BBM SOM

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