Lakhs converge on Puri for Rath YatraJune 21st, 2012 - 12:18 pm ICT by IANS
Bhubaneswar, June 21 (IANS) Lakhs of devotees thronged Odisha’s temple town of Puri Thursday for the annual Rath Yatra (chariot festival) of Lord Jagannath, his brother Balabhadra and sister Subhadra, officials said.
The ceremonial procession of the deities known as Pahandi - carrying the deities out of the temple to the chariots - started at 9.35 a.m., Laxmidhar Pujapanda, the public relations officer of the temple administration, told IANS.
More than three lakh devotees have already reached the town, around 56 km from the state capital Bhubaneswar by 9 a.m. By evening, the numbers could swell to more than a million, Pujapanda said.
The festival marks the annual journey of the three deities from the 12th century Jagannath temple in three splendidly decorated wooden chariots, pulled by devotees, to the Gundicha temple, around three km away.
The festival ends nine days later when the deities make their way back home to the Jagannath temple. The return journey, known as Bahuda Jatra, will be organised June 29.
A glimpse of the deities is considered auspicious and around a million devotees throng to attend this annual procession. The chariots are pulled with ropes by devotees amid chanting of hymns.
The state government has made elaborate security arrangements with about 8,000 policemen deployed across the town to maintain law and order and prevent any untoward incident, district Superintendent of Police Anup Kumar Sahoo told IANS.
Hundreds of policemen have been deployed at the beach and about half a dozen closed circuit security cameras have also been installed at various places, he said.
Similarly, bomb detection and disposal squads and fire tenders have been engaged to meet emergencies. The Coast Guard has stationed a ship in the Bay of Bengal close to the Puri coast, and intensified patrolling along the sea route, he said.
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- Orissa town celebrates return festival of deities - Jul 11, 2011
- Lakhs converge in Puri for Jagannath return festival - Jul 21, 2010
- Lakhs witness deities' bathing ritual in Puri - Jun 15, 2011
- Woman dies in stampede during Jagannath Rath Yatra (Lead) - Jul 13, 2010
- Lakhs converge in Puri for Jagannath Rath Yatra - Jul 13, 2010
- Security in place for Puri's Jagannath return festival - Jul 20, 2010
- Million devotees brave scorching heat for Puri chariot festival (Lead) (With Image) - Jun 24, 2009
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Tags: bay of bengal, bomb detection, ceremonial procession, chariots, circuit security, deities, devotees, district superintendent, fire tenders, jatra, puri, rath yatra, return journey, sahoo, sea route, security arrangements, security cameras, subhadra, temple town, untoward incident