Vikash Sharma

The stage is all set for the grand Rukuna Rath, the annual chariot festival of Lord Lingaraj in Bhubaneswar. Devotees are upbeat as they will be attending the chariot festival after a gap of almost two years.

Devotees were earlier not allowed to take part in the festival owing to the restrictions due to the Covid-19 pandemic situation.

As per the schedule, the 'Pahandi' rituals and 'Ratharudha' will be carried out between 12:30 pm and 1:30 pm while the Chariot pulling ceremony will start from 3:30 pm onwards today.

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.

Odisha Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik and BJP National Vice-President Baijayant Panda today extended wishes to the people on the auspicious occasion of 'Ashokasthami' and Lord Lingaraj’s Rukuna Rath.

"Heartiest greetings and congratulations to all on the occasion of Holy Ashokasthami and the Rukuna Rath Yatra of Lord Sri Lingaraj," tweeted the BJP VP.