Pradeep Pattanayak

A wave of euphoria is sweeping the pilgrim city of Puri with lakhs of devotees thronging the city since dawn to have a glimpse of Lord Jagannath and His siblings-Lord Balabhadra and Devi Subhadra- on the occasion of the annual Rath Yatra. 

Today, it seems that all roads lead to Puri. With devotees coming to the holy city on the main road, the arterial roads in the capital city and even the malls and markets have borne a near-deserted look. 

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There in Puri, a sea of people has already gathered on the Grand Road to witness the annual chariot festival of the Holy Trinity. On the Grand Road, some devotees in the get-up of Hindu Gods like Lord Hanuman and Lord Shiva and some Odissi dancers performing in front of chariots are adding colours to the festival. 

Expressing his happiness, Pradeep Kumar Patra, a resident of Berhampur, who dressed up as Lord Shiva with matted locks on head and a pellet drum (dambroo) in one hand, said, “I have been coming to Puri on the occasion of car festival for the last couple of years. I always dance ‘Shiva Tandav’ in front of chariots. On Bahuda Yatra, I take the get up of Lord Krishna and dance. I can’t express my happiness in words for being able to dance in front of chariots while lakhs of devotees are looking at me.”

Amrita, an Odissi dancer said dancing in front of lords gave her immense pleasure and satisfaction. She said she had been eagerly waiting for this moment.  

Echoing the same, Brinda, an Odissi dancer from Colombia, said, “I have come to Jagannath Dham for the first time. I am very happy to be here at this moment. I have been waiting excitedly to have glimpse of Lord Jagannath.” 

While talking to OTV, Asit Pradhan, a resident of Banki who took the get up of Lord Hanuman said, “Lord Jagannath is the incarnation of Lord Ram. So, I have taken the get up of Lord Hanuman, his sevak. Dancing before His chariot is nothing but the attainment of long-cherished desire. I really feel blessed.”

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