Amid tight security, the world famous ‘Rath Yatra’ of Lord Jagannath was held in Puri town of Odisha on Wednesday with fanfare, religious fervour, and a spirit of camaraderie.
Lakhs of devotees from across the country and abroad descended on the seaside town to witness the commencement of the nine-day journey of Lord Jagannath, Lord Balabhadra and Devi Subhadra to Gundicha Temple and back to their abode. Devotees from all walks of life made a beeline to the seaside town since Tuesday to have a glimpse of the presiding deities of the 12th century shrine of Sri Jagannath as they mingled with the sea of humanity during the annual festival of chariots.
Enthusiasm and excitement ran high among the devotees as the deities remained indoors since “Snana Purnima” on June 20. The “Naba Jaubana Darshan” of the deities was performed on Tuesday as they remained confined in “Anasara Pindi” (recovery chamber) after the grand bath on “Snana Purnima”.
With a large number of visitors thronging the holy town on the occasion, police have made elaborate arrangements to throw a thick security blanket by deploying personnel in strength besides putting air and coast surveillance in place. A multi-layer security net had been thrown to ensure smooth conduct of the festival while CCTVs have been installed at various locations to keep a tab on people, Director General of Police (DGP), K B Singh said.
Security was tightened outside the temple, around the three chariots and the Grand Road, sea beach, railway station and the bus stand, he said, adding patrolling was strengthened. “We are well prepared to face any situation. Steps have also been taken to avoid any stampede-like situation,” said a police official.
Personnel of Anti Terrorist Squad (ATS), Rapid Action Force (RAF) and sharp shooters were deployed in vital points while the Coast Guard kept a vigil on the sea. Devotees poured into the sea side town to watch the grand ceremony and pull the three majestic and colorful chariots on the ‘bada danda’, the grand avenue.