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Rath Yatra 2016: Lord Jagannath begins his 9-Day sojourn amid tight security

Lord Jagannath's chariot, called Nandighosh and is is 45.6 feet high and has 18 wheels

  • The celebrations mark the visit of Lord Jagannath, Lord Balaram and their sister Devi Subhadra to their aunt’s house for nine days
  • The preparations for the yatra are known to start well in advance, to celebrate the grandness of the festival
  • Amid the fêtes, PM Narendra Modi took to his Twitter handle and wished the nation on the annual occasion of Rath Yatra

Jagannath Rath Yatra is a splendid Hindu festival, which calls out for fervour every year. The celebrations mark the visit of Lord Jagannath (a manifestation of Krishna), Lord Balaram (Balabhadra) and their sister Devi Subhadra to their aunt’s house for nine days.

While the cities get all decked up, the journey to and from their aunt’s house at Shri Gundicha temple are the two important days of festivities, which are celebrated in the seaside town of Puri in Odisha. This year, in 2016, the two days will be July 6 (when the two idols will leave for their aunt’s house) and July 14 (when they’ll return to Jagannath temple, also called Bahuda Yatra).

Being the grandest festival in the city, and in the state, to say the least, the preparations for the yatra are known to start well in advance.  The arrangements begin with the decoration of the elaborate wooden chariots that are pulled by ropes by thousands of devotees. Lord Jagannath’s chariot, called Nandighosh, is 45.6 feet tall and has 18 wheels. Taladhvaja is the name of Lord Balaram’s chariot and is 45 feet high and has 16 wheels and Devi Subhadra’s chariot, Devadalana, stands at 44.6 feet and has 14 wheels.

Signifying that all are equal in the eyes of Lord, the erstwhile rule of the state sweeps the path in front of the decked up rath with a broom having a golden handle and sprinkles sandalwood powder on both the days of the journey of the idols.

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Cognizant to the increasing terror threat to the pilgrim town, Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik took a stock of security arrangements. 145 platoons of armed police personnel including officers of various ranks have been deployed in and around the town to ensure that the yatra is carried out peacefully.

Director General of Police (DGP) KB Singh told The New Indian Express, “Multi-layer security arrangements have been made for smooth conduct of the festival. CCTVs have been installed at various locations to keep a tab on the visitors.”

He further said that air surveillance and land patrolling would also be intensified.

Prime Minister Narendra Midi. Image Source: The Indian Express
Prime Minister Narendra Midi. Image Source: The Indian Express

Amid the fêtes, Prime Minister Narendra Modi also took to his Twitter handle and extended his wishes to the nation on the annual occasion of Rath Yatra in a tweet that read, “On the occasion of Rath Yatra, my warmest greetings to you all. May Lord Jagannath continue to shower his blessings on everyone.”

He added, “May the blessings of Lord Jagannath lead to the development of villages, the well-being of poor & farmers and take India to new heights of progress.”

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Meanwhile, Ahmedabad is also celebrating the 139th edition of Lord Jagannath Yatra. BJP chief Amit Shah also offered his prayers at the Jagannath Temple here.

The rath yatra in Ahmedabad will begin from the 400-year old Jagannath temple at Jamalpur.

Considering that the procession will pass through some communally sensitive areas, almost 18,000 security personnel have been deployed at strategic locations throughout the route.

Sand chariots made by Sudarshan Patnaik. Image Source: The New Indian Express
Sand chariots made by Sudarshan Patnaik. Image Source: The New Indian Express

Interestingly, famous sand artist Sudarshan Patnaik also created a grand spectacle and another record for the Limca book by carving out 100 sand chariots on the beach.

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