Lakhs of devotees throng Puri as Jagannath Rath Yatra begins

RSTV Bureau
Devotees pull the chariots during the 141st Rath Yatra, in Puri on Saturday, July 14, 2018. (Photo: PTI)

Devotees pull the chariots during the 141st Rath Yatra, in Puri on Saturday, July 14, 2018. (Photo: PTI)

The nine-day annual Jagannath Rath Yatra begins in Puri with lakhs of devotess pitching in for the religious procession in Odisha on Saturday.

On this day Lord Jagannath and his brother Balaram and sister Subhadra, visit their aunt at the Gundicha Temple around three kilometres away. The procession also known as Chariot festival and attracts over a million Hindu pilgrims who join the procession each year.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi greeted people on the occasion and hoped Lord Jagannath’s blessings will help the country scale new heights of development.

In Gujarat, Chief Minister Vijay Rupani and Deputy Chief Minister Nitin Patel performed ‘Pahind Vidhi’ – a symbolic ritual of cleaning the way for the chariots using a golden broom.

The chariots of Lord Jagannath with his two siblings  Balbhadra and  Subhadra then embarked on the yatra from the 400- year-old Jagannath Temple in the Jamalpur area.

 BJP National President Amit Shah offer prayers at Lord Jagganath temple during the annual 141st Rath Yatra, in Ahmedabad on Saturday, July 14, 2018. (Photo: PTI)

BJP National President Amit Shah offer prayers at Lord Jagganath temple during the annual 141st Rath Yatra, in Ahmedabad on Saturday, July 14, 2018. (Photo: PTI)

Before the annual Rath Yatra started, BJP president Amit Shah performed “mangla aarti” (auspicious ritual to pay obeisance to Lord) of the deities in the temple during the early hours.

Besides the three chariots, the Rath Yatra procession comprised 18 decorated elephants, 101 trucks with tableaux, members of 30 religious groups and 18 singing troupes.

The Rath Yatra is taken out every year on Ashadhi Bij, the second day of Ashad month, as per the Hindu calender.

The procession will come back to the temple at 8.30 pm today after passing through the Old City, including some communally sensitive areas like Jamalpur, Kalupur, Shahpur and Dariyapur.

Over 20,200 personnel drawn from the city police, Home Guards, the State Reserve Police (SRP) and para-military forces were deployed at strategic locations along the 18km-long yatra route to prevent any untoward incident.

(With agency inputs)