The Rath Yatra festival in Odisha, one the biggest local festivals In Odisha, began on Thursday, which witnessed lakhs and lakhs of devotees flocking to the holy town of Puri, to offer their prayers to the three holy deities- Lord Jagannath, Lord Balabhadra, and Goddess Subhadra.
The festival is observed on a grand scale, and the atmosphere is completely filled with divine sounds of cymbals, manjeera, and drums, while the devotees chant out loud the names of the three deities.
All roads are leading to the beach town, as the stage have been set for the annual chariot festival.
Three majestic chariots, Nandighosa (Lord Jagannath), Taladwaja (Balabhadra) and Darpadalan (Subhadra), have been kept ready in front of the 12th-century shrine, which will be pulled by lakhs of devotees.
The Puri district administration on Wednesday gave finishing touches to the massive preparations. The Grand Trunk Road was completely packed with devotees on the Rath Yatra eve. The entire area echoed with chants of 'Jai Jagannath', followed by the sounds of cymbals, flutes, and dholaks.
The annual rath yatra, which commenced from Jagannath temple, will conclude at Shree Gundicha temple, considered as the aunt's place of the deities.
The devotees will pull the grand chariots on the road covering a nearly 2.5 km distance, said an official of the Shree Jagannath Temple Administration.
The Odisha government has deployed 10,000 security personnel in this holy town for the annual Rath Jatra of Lord Jagannath, which will be attended by lakhs of people on Thursday.
Anticipating a congregation of around 10 lakh devotees on the Rath Yatra day, 10,000 strong force has been deployed on the ground, while personnel of Indian Navy and Coast Guard will patrol in the sea, a senior official said.
CCTV cameras have been installed on the grand road for the security of devotees.
As many as 142 platoons of Odisha police, about 1,000 officers of various ranks, 2,450 Home Guards, three company of RAF, two units of ODRAF, one unit NDRF, three company OSAF besides eight anti-sabotage teams, a bomb disposal squad with sniffer dogs have been deployed in Puri, the official said.
Two ADGP rank officers, five IGPs and 1,000 commandant rank officers will supervise the security arrangements.
Meanwhile, the Shree Jaganath Temple Administration Chief Administrator P K Mohapatra said: "We have already prepared a time line for the procession of deities and pulling of chariots. With cooperation of all the stake holders, rituals will go on smoothly."
Apart from police, different state government departments like health, urban and housing development department, sanitation and others are doing their best to make the occasion a grand success, said Mohapatra.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi and President Ram Nath Kovind on Thursday extended greeting to the people.
"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.
We pray to Lord Jagannath and seek his blessings for the good health, happiness and prosperity of everyone.
Jai Jagannath. pic.twitter.com/l9v36YlUQ5— Narendra Modi (@narendramodi) July 4, 2019
The deities return to Shree Mandir only after completion of the nine-day Yatra on the same chariots called 'Bahuda Yatra' (return car festival).