Rukuna Rath yatra to be celebrated today

Bhubaneswar: The famous Rukuna Rath yatra of Lord Lingaraj will be celebrated here today on the occasion of Ashokastami with pomp and gaiety. Thousands of devotees are expected to throng to shrine to pull the chariot.

Amidst the beating of drums and gongs, and the blowing of conch shells, bronze statues the pahandi of three deities; Chandrashekhar, Rukmini and Basudev will begin at 12:30 pm and the pulling of the 35-feet four-wheeled chariot will start at 4 pm.

For the annual festival, a special Puja began last midnight with the auction of Lord Lingaraj’s Marichikunda water. It is believed that if barren women take bath with the ‘holy’ water, they would be blessed with children.

The Mangal Alati of the Lord was performed at around 4 am today followed by Sahan Mela Darshan at 4:40 am to 6 am this morning.
Meanwhile, for smooth conduct of the festival, 38 platoons of police force were deployed at the Lingaraj temple to manage the crowd.

The Rukuna Rath is also called ‘analeuta’ chariot (the chariot that does not take a turn during the return car festival). Going by the convention, the Rukuna Rath is pulled from backside without being turned. The sitting altar of the deities is changed on the day of homecoming.