Vikash Sharma

It was after a gap of 53 years that devotees witnessed a unique Rath Yatra with multiple rituals including Netra Utsav and 'Nabajouban darshan being held on the same day.

Two-day affair

To mark their presence, millions of devotees from different parts of Odisha, the country and the globe thronged the grand road in Puri on the occasion of Rath Yatra on Sunday.

This year, the chariots will be pulled by devotees for two days. 

Since early morning, devotees started arriving in Puri to get a darshan of the Holy Trinity- Lord Jagannath, Balabhadra and Devi Subhadra. It is on Rath Yatra day that the Lord of the Universe steps out of his abode to give darshan to the devotees who cannot enter the temple.

Prior to the conduct of Pahandi rituals, the deities were offered special bhoga in the form of Khechudi and other traditional items before they began their nine-day annual sojourn.

Early Pahandi 

The Pahandi rituals began much earlier than schedule, bringing smiles to the faces of the devotees as they were waiting anxiously since morning to have a glimpse of the Holy Trinity.
A devotee said that it is not less than a miracle to watch and get a glimpse of Lord Jagannath while he is being escorted out of Puri Srimandir by the servitors in the traditional Pahandi ritual.
A brief spell of rain when the Lord was coming out of his abode made it feel a completely heavenly affair with deities showering love, said a devotee.

Chariots roll on the grand road

After Lord Jagannath, Balabhadra and Devi Subhadra were escorted by servitors to their respective chariots, other prominent rituals were conducted. Next, Puri Gajapati Maharaja performed the traditional Chhera Panhara on the three chariots. He swept the floors of the chariots with a broom made of a golden handle. 
Then, the much-awaited chariot pulling started. The first chariot pulled along the grand road was ‘Taladhwaja’, the chariot of Lord Balabhadra, followed by Devi Subhadra’s Darpadalana and Lord Jagannath’s ‘Nandighosa. 

Chariot pulling halted

However, the chariot pulling in Puri halted for the day after twilight fell. 
While Lord Balabhadra's Chariot Taladhwaja halted at Marichikote Chhak, Darpadalana, the chariot of Devi Subhadra stopped near Srikrishna Cinema Hall and Lord Jagannath's chariot Nandighosa halted after rolling some distance from the Singhadwar. 

A devotee from Russia said, “It is for the first time that I have come to attend the Rath Yatra. I am excited to meet Lord Jagannath.”

The Rath Yatra is a unique festival that connects the devotees with the Lord of the Universe. Lord Jagannath is a God of emotions and listens to his devotees as per their faith and devotion. It is believed that everybody is equal in the eyes of the Lord Jagannath. Be it the rich or the common man, everybody was seen waiting outside the Bada Danda to get a glimpse of the Lord outside his abode. It is the only occasion when the Mahaprabhu comes out of the Puri Srimandir to give darshan to his devotees.

Some devotees from Kendrapara had also brought Tulsi for the Lord as an offering on the occasion. It shows that the Lord only craves for the love of the devotees.

Massive arrangement 

Elaborate arrangements were made for the smooth conduct of the rituals on the auspicious day. Tight security arrangements were also made by Odisha Police.

President Droupadi Murmu also took part in the Rath Yatra festivities at Puri. She had arrived in Odisha on a four-day visit on Saturday.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi took to his official X handle to greet the people on the occasion of Rath Yatra today while sharing a video.

Mishap during chariot pulling

During chariot pulling, a stampede-like situation was reported, resulting in the death of a male devotee. The identity of the deceased was not ascertained at the filing of the report.

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