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Rajendra Prasad Mohapatra

The annual chariot festival of Lord Lingaraj in Bhubaneswar kicked off as thousands of devotes pulled the grand chariot (Rukuna Rath) in Bhubaneswar on Saturday.

Devotees were not allowed to take part in the festival for two consecutive years owing to the restrictions due to the Covid-19 pandemic situation. However, participation of devotees was allowed this year. 

As per the niti schedule, ‘Mangala Alati’ was performed at 5 am, following which the temple was opened for devotees from 5.30 am to 6 am for ‘Sahanamela Darshan’. Later, Mahasnana was performed between 7 am to 8 am, followed by Pahandi Bije that began at 12.30 pm. The devotees got a glimpse of the lords following ‘Pahandi’ ritual amid chanting of hymns, beating of drums and gongs and blowing of conch shells.

The chariot pulling was delayed by nearly one and half hour following the completion of all the rituals. However, the rath stopped midway near Tinimundia chhak after sunset. 

“Due to huge rush of devotees, the rituals couldn’t be performed in time and hence the chariot pulling work was delayed. The rituals will resume from tomorrow morning and the chariot will be pulled towards ‘Mausi Maa’ temple,” said a servitor.

Another ritual, which is associated with Rukuna Rath, is the auction of Marichi Kund water inside Mukteswar temple. As per popular belief, the water cures infertility if taken on the penultimate night of the Rath Yatra. It is for this reason that several childless couples throng the temple to get the holy water from the Marichi Kund.

Sources said that the first pot of water from Marichi Kund was auctioned for a whopping price of Rs 1.3 lakh on Friday night while the second pot was sold for Rs 47,000.

(Edited by Suryakant Jena)

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