The 134th Rathyatra of Lord Jagannath began here this morning from the 400-year-old Jagannath temple in Jamalpur area amidst tight security as devotees jostled to have the first glimpse of the deity.
Following the tradition, Gujarat Chief Minister Narendra Modi did the symbolic ‘road cleaning’ ahead of passage of chariots of Lord Jagannath, Lord Balram and their sister, Subhadra.
“With Lord Jagannath’s blessing the country and Gujarat would prosper. The lord will bless the under-privileged, the state, and the farmers of Gujarat with rains,” he said.
He noted that Lord Jagannath’s Rathyatra is taken out at 110 places in Gujarat, and the procession in Ahmedabad has the longest tradition.
A local priest, Mahant Dilipdas Maharaj (37), is presiding over the Lord’s journey this year.
In keeping with a century-old tradition, elephants had the first glimpse of Lord Jagannath, and they would lead the procession along its 14-km route.
It will pass through some communally sensitive areas, such as Kalupur, Prem Darwaja, Delhi Chakla, Dariyapur and Shahpur in the old city.
Devotees had lined up alongside the chariots as they rolled out this morning.
The main chariots are closely followed by colourfully decked-up elephants, trucks, devotees on foot, acrobats and gymnasts.
Nineteen decorated elephants and 98 decorated trucks are a part of the procession this year. The three main chariots of Lord Jagannath, Lord Balram and Subhadra will be pulled by about 1,000 devotees.
Elaborate security arrangement has been made for the Rathyatra. Over 15,000 policemen including 36 IPS officers have been deployed to keep a tight vigil, police said.
40 companies of additional security forces, including 16 units of paramilitary forces and BSF have also been roped in, they said.
Some 150 trainee IPS officers from the National Police Academy (NPA) would be taking part in Rathyatra as observers this year.
The procession is being videographed by 65 videographers from various locations.