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Regular-article-logo Tuesday, 05 March 2024

Historic Jagannath Rath Yatra begins in Puri

District under curfew till Wednesday 2pm

PTI Puri Published 23.06.20, 02:02 PM
Priests and devotees take part in the pahandi rituals of Jagannath Rath Yatra in Puri, Tuesday, June 23, 2020

Priests and devotees take part in the pahandi rituals of Jagannath Rath Yatra in Puri, Tuesday, June 23, 2020 PTI

The historic Rath Yatra of Jagannath commenced on Tuesday in this pilgrim town without the usual sea of devotees and amid tight security in view of the Covid-19 pandemic, less than 24 hours after the Supreme Court modified its earlier order to clear the decks for the annual ritual.

In order to prevent any congregation, a curfew-like shutdown has been imposed across Puri district from 9pm on Monday till 2pm on Wednesday, DGP Abhay said.

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Over 50 platoons of police force (one platoon has 30 personnel) have been deployed and CCTVs installed at various locations as part of the security arrangement for the nine-day festival, officials said, adding, all entry points to Puri were sealed.

Priests and police personnel, who were part of the chariot pulling ritual, underwent mandatory Covid-19 testing on Monday night and only those whose reports came out negative were allowed to participate in the festival, they said.

A number of customary rituals like 'Mangla Arati' and 'Mailam' were held before the presiding deities -- Jagannath, his elder brother Balabhadra and their sister Subhadra -- set out from the sanctum sanctorum of the temple.

Descending from the 'Ratna Sinhasana', the bejeweled throne, the three deities were taken out of the temple down the 22 steps known as 'Baisi Pahacha' through the Lion's Gate in an elaborate royal ritual called 'Pahandi'.

In a rhythmic style, the deities moved forward step by step amid blowing of conch shells and ringing of bells.

At first Sudarshana, the celestial wheel of Krishna-Vishnu, was taken out and placed in the chariot of Subhadra followed by Balabhadra, Subhadra and finally Jagannath.

Ready to carry the deities for their annual nine-day sojourn to the Gundicha temple, nearly three km away, the three wooden chariots waited outside draped in layers of red, black, green and yellow.

The 45-feet high 'Nandighosh', the chariot of Jagannath, stood with 16 huge wooden wheels, while that of Balabhadra's 'Taladhawaja' is 44-feet high with 14 wheels. Subhadra's 'Darpadalan' is 43-feet high with 12 wheels.

Gajapati Maharaja Dibyasingha Deb performed the special 'Chhera Panhara' ritual with a golden broom ahead of the pulling of the chariots.

Disallowed to physically participate in the grand festival, lakhs of devotees got a chance to witness the Rath Yatra live on television.

President Ram Nath Kovind, Vice-President M. Venkaiah Naidu, Prime Minister Narendra Modi, Odisha chief minister Naveen Patnaik and Union home minister Amit Shah greeted people on the occasion of Rath Yatra.

The Supreme Court gave the go-ahead for the Rath Yatra after taking note of the Odisha government's assurance that it "can be held in a limited way without public attendance".

Modifying its June 18 order by which it had said that this year's Puri Rath Yatra cannot be permitted due t coronavirus pandemic, a bench headed by Chief Justice S.A. Bobde, on Monday directed the Odisha government to impose curfew in Puri city during the time when chariots are taken in procession.

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