Lakhs witness Bahuda Yatra at Puri

Puri: Lakhs of devotees from across the country and abroad descended on the pilgrim town of Puri on Thursday to witness "Bahuda Yatra", the return car festival of the Trinity which was held amidst tight security.

Wrapping up their nine-day sojourn to their aunt's abode, Lord Jagannath, elder brother, Lord Balabhadra and their sister Devi Subhadra set off for their return journey to the 12th century shrine on three majestic wooden chariots. A multi-layer security net was thrown over the seashore town amid heavy deployment of force in view of the recent serial blasts at Bodh Gaya in Bihar, a senior police official said.

Several special rituals were performed before the deities journeyed out of the Gundicha temple to the three colourfully decorated chariots for the return journey as sound of "Jai Jagannath" rent the air.

The three deities were taken to the chariots in an elaborate royal ritual called 'Pahandi' to the beating of gongs, cymbals and blowing of Conch shells as devotees and sevayats jostled to have a closer look and to touch them.

Lord Jagannath was ensconed in the largest of the chariots, 45-feet high 'Nandighosh' which has 16 huge wooden wheels. The chariot of Balabhadra was the 14-wheeled 44 feet high 'Taladhwaja' and that of Subhadra known as 'Darpadalan' with 12 wheels and standing 43 feet high.

The Gajapati King of Puri Divya Singha Deb arrived from his palace for the 'Chhera Pahanra' ritual. He offered prayers to the deity and then swept the platforms with a golden broom and sprinkled flowers and fragrant water.

The giant chariots were pulled by devotees amid gaiety and devotion on "bada danda", the grand avenue up to the lion's gate in front of Sri Jagannath temple where they would be stationed till Saturday. The deities would finally re-enter the shrine and again adorn the 'Ratna Simhasana'.

The deities would be decorated with "suna besha", golden attire, tomorrow on the chariots, which is expected to attract a large number of devotees