A sea of devotees thronged the beach town of Puri in Odisha as the annual nine-day Rath Jatra of Lord Jagannath and his siblings began on Thursday.
Lakhs of people have congregated in Puri for a glimpse of Lord Jagannath, Lord Balabhadra and Devi Subhadra on the Bada Danda (Grand Road) as they travel from their home -- the 12th century Jagannath temple to the Shree Gundicha temple, home of their aunt.
The deities will travel to Gundicha temple on three giant wooden chariots -- Nandighosa (Lord Jagannath), Taladhwaja (Balabhadra) and Darpadalan (Subhadra) -- to be pulled by the gathered devotees.
The rituals related to the annual yatra started early in the morning. Adorned with tahias (giant floral crowns), the three deities along with Lord Sudarsan were brought out of the sanctum sanctorum amid beats of cymbals, drums and gongs in a procession called Pahandia to their respective chariots parked in front of the temple.
After the deities were placed on their respective chariots, Puri Gajapati Divyasingh Dev performed Chhera Panhara on the chariots. Puri Gajapati conducted the ritual of sweeping the chariots with a golden broom, a symbolic rite showing that all are equal before the Lord.
"Best wishes to everyone on the special occasion of the Rath Yatra. We pray to Lord Jagannath and seek his blessings for the good health, happiness, and prosperity of everyone. Jai Jagannath," PM Modi tweeted.
Best wishes to everyone on the special occasion of the Rath Yatra.— Narendra Modi (@narendramodi) July 4, 2019
We pray to Lord Jagannath and seek his blessings for the good health, happiness and prosperity of everyone.
Jai Jagannath. pic.twitter.com/l9v36YlUQ5
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