Enthusiastic devotees tugged the three decorated chariots that carried the three sibling deities of Lord Balabhadra, Lord Jagannath, and Devi Subhadra to the 12th century Shree Jagannath temple at Puri on the occasion Bahuda Yatra on Thursday.

The Bahuda Yatra — the return festival — marked the end of the nine-day-long famous car festival.

Lakhs of devotees from across the country and abroad thronged the coastal town to witness the festival.

From morning, priests in the Gundicha temple, which is mythically considered as the aunt’s abode of the deities, performed several rituals associated with the ceremony.

Idols of Lord Balabhadra, Lord Jagannath, and Devi Subhadra are taken out from the main temple once in a year. As per belief, the deities give darshan to devotees, irrespective of their caste and religion. The sibling deities stay for nine days at the aunt’s house.

Pulling of the three chariots commenced in the afternoon, after Gajapati Dibysingha Deb, widely referred to as the king of Puri, carried out traditional ‘Chhera Phanra’ — sweeping of wooden platform of the chariots.

‘Sunabesa’ today

The chariots, however, could not reach the main temple. The pulling of chariots would resume on Friday. The idols would remain on the chariots on Friday on occasion of the celebration of ‘Sunabesa’.

In Sunabesa, the three deities are decorated with huge quantity of gold ornaments. The ritual follows the annual car festival every year. The State police had made elaborate security arrangements in the city to prevent any untoward incident. Devotees reaching the pilgrim city of Puri were frisked at both the railway station and bus terminals.

The East Coast Railway had run 19 special trains to avoid rush of passengers for the Bahuda Yatra.

Bahuda Yatra was also celebrated across the State.

It marks the end of the nine-day-long car festival of Lord Jagannath