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Rath Yatra begins in Puri

The world famous weeklong Rath yatra of Lord Jagannath started this morning in Puri in Orissa. The thousand-year-old annual chariot festival is one of the world''s largest surviving holy celebrations.

Written by Agencies | Puri,orissa |
June 24, 2009 2:30:34 pm

The Rath Yatra festival of Lord Jagannath got off to a colourful start on Wednesday with the presiding deities of the 12th century temple here taken out in a grand procession,even as thousands of devotees gathered to have a glimpse of the grand spectacle amid unprecedented security.

In a rhythmic movement,the deities of Lord Balabhadra,Devi Subhadra and Lord Jagannath were taken out in a grand procession called ‘pahandi’. First Balabhadra,then Subhadra and finally Jagannath were taken out of the temple,down the 22 steps known as ‘baisi pahacha’ and through the Lion’s gate.

The deities of Lord Balabhadra,Devi Subhadra and Lord Jagannath adorned the gigantic chariots Taladhwaja,Darpadalan and Nandighosha respectively,which had been stationed at the ‘Simhadwara’ (Lion’s gate) before being pulled by devotees. The annual celebrations began this morning with a set of rituals including ‘mangala arati’,’mailam’ and ‘vesha’ followed by ‘surya puja’ (worship of Sun God) and offering of ‘bhogas’.

Outside the temple main gate,consecration ceremony of the three chariots was performed. The temple was thrown open to public yesterday for ‘naba jaubana darshan’ of the deities.

After the ‘pahandi’ ceremony,Gajapati Maharaja of Puri Sri Dibyasingha,regarded as the living incarnation of Lord Jagannath on earth,swept the floors of each of the chariots with a golden broom. The ritual is known as ‘cherra

pahanra’.

Amidst cries of ‘Jai Jagannath’ and sound of clanging cymbals,the deities began their annual nine-day sojourn to the Gundicha temple,about 8,300 feet away.

The majestic wooden chariots carrying the deities were draped in yards of red,black,green and yellow cloth.

While the 45-feet-high ‘Nandighosh’ has 16 huge wooden wheels,the 44-feet-high ‘Taladhwaja’ has 14 wheels. Subhadra’s 43-feet-high ratha ‘Darpadalan’ has 12 wheels.

Meanwhile,5,700 security personnel were deployed here to thwart any possible terrorist attack. Special arrangements were also made in the wake of the stampede that claimed six lives during Rath yatra last year,official sources said.

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