Lord Jagannath’s ‘Bahuda Yatra’ (return car festival) was witnessed by lakhs of devotees from across the country and abroad on Monday. The festival was held amid tight security.
A multi-layer security net was thrown in the town with heavy deployment of forces to ensure smooth celebrations and prevent any untoward incident, a senior police official said.
According to mythology, the three deities - Lord Jagannath, his elder brother Lord Balabhadra and their sister Devi Subhadra wrap up their annual nine-day sojourn to Sri Gundicha Temple, their birth place and return to Sreemandir or Sri Jagannath temple riding their three majestic wooden chariots.
Several special rituals were performed before the deities were taken out of the Gundicha temple and placed on the three colourfully decorated chariots for the return journey amid chants of ‘Jai Jagannath’ and ‘Hari Bol’.
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The divine siblings were taken to their chariots in an elaborate ritual called ‘Pahandi’ to the beating of gongs, cymbals and blowing of conch shells. Lord Jagannath was ensconced in the largest of the three chariots - the 45 feet-high ‘Nandighosh’, Balabhadra in his 44 feet-high ‘Taladhwaja’ and Subhadra in her 43 feet-high ‘Darpadalan’.
Gajapati King of Puri Divya Singha Deb performed the ‘Chhera Pahanra’ ritual. He offered prayers to the deities and then swept the platforms of the chariots with a golden broom and sprinkled flowers and fragrant water.
The giant chariots were then pulled by devotees amid gaiety and devotion on ‘Bada Danda’, the grand avenue leading to the Sri Jagannath temple up to the Lion’s gate in front of it where they would be stationed till July 6.
The deities, who had embarked on a nine-day sojourn to the Gundicha Temple during Rath Yatra on June 25, would finally re-enter the 12th century shrine and again be placed on the ‘Ratna Simhasana’, the bejewelled throne, following a ceremony called ‘Neeladribije’.
Ahead of ‘Neeladribije’, the deities would be decorated with ‘suna besha’ or golden attire on Tuesday on their chariots, which traditionally attracts a large number of devotees from all over.
More than 3,000 of police personnel have been deployed in the pilgrim town apart from central para-military forces, while over 180 CCTVs have been installed on the grand avenue to keep a close vigil.