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Millennium’s first Nabakalebar Rath Yatra held at Puri

Devotees pull a chariot to set in front of the Lord Jagannath temple on the eve of the annual Rath Yatra at Puri, 65 km from Bhubaneswar in Odhisa.

Devotees pull a chariot to set in front of the Lord Jagannath temple on the eve of the annual Rath Yatra at Puri, 65 km from Bhubaneswar in Odhisa.   | Photo Credit: PTI

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Lakhs descended on the pilgrim town of Puri io catch a glimpse of the presiding deities of the 12th century shrine of Sri Jagannath.

Lakhs of devotees thronged the coastal town of Puri to catch the glimpse of deities re-embodied after 19 years on chariots on the occasion of Rath Yatra, marking largest-ever religious congregation in Odisha.

Hordes of servitors cordoned by police personnel were carrying huge wooden idols from 12th century Shri Jagannath Temple to chariots in a ritual described as 'pahandi'. Devotees had been waiting with bated breath for the commencement of this ritual.

In fact, devotees had occupied their positions at the Grand Road, venue of Rath Yatra, from early morning. Three majestically decorated chariots carrying idols of deities – Lord Jagannath, Lord Balabhadra and Devi Subhadra – would be towed later in the day.

Annually three deities are taken out in a chariot procession called Ratha Yatra covering three-km-long distance along Grand Road connecting Shri Jagannath Temple and Mausima Temple. As per scriptures, deities come out of their abode once in a year to give darshan to all devotees.

This year’s Rath Yatra carries a huge religious importance as devotees will get to see newly sculpted idols on chariots for the first time. The re-embodiment of deities is known as Nabakalebara festival.

“It is a lifetime opportunity to get darshan of deities in newly sculpted body. I don’t know if I will ever come for Nabakalebara festival in future,” said Rajani Tiwary, a devotee from Uttar Pradesh, said.

To ensure the mega event passes off smoothly, a very meticulous plan involving both civilians and police had gone into arrangement of the festival. More than 10,000 police, and disaster response force and paramilitary personnel have been deployed. Top cops are keeping a tab on crowd in Grand Road divided into 17 different sectors.

Traffic management plan has been enforced on more than 100-km-long roads reading to Puri town. Around 30 parking areas have been created so that vehicles do not disturb smooth movement of devotees.

Drenched in religious emotion, Puri had been receiving devotees coming from all parts of the globe. Inflow of huge number of pilgrims to Puri is likely to continue for next nine days. Many devotees were seen dancing ecstatically. Many people were seen dropping to the ground frequently as mark of their devotion to the deities. Devotees in groups are approaching the Grand Road by reciting ‘Haribol’ and ‘Jai Jagannath’.

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Printable version | Dec 9, 2019 8:29:15 AM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/lakhs-descend-on-puri-to-witness-rath-yatra/article7438077.ece

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