Puri: Devotees, undeterred by the heavy downpour, thronged the town of Puri for the world-famous annual Ratha Yatra of Lord Jagannath and his siblings that began on Sunday.
Lakhs of people have gathered at the pilgrim town to witness Lord Jagannath, Lord Balabhadra and Devi Subhadra riding three giant wooden chariots which are pulled by devotees on the Bada Danda (Grand Road) as they travel to Gundicha temple.
Director General of Police (DGP) KB Singh said elaborate security arrangements have been made and hundreds of personnel have been deployed for the chariot festival.
Ratha Yatra (chariot festival) marks the annual journey of the three deities from the 12th century Jagannath temple in the chariots to the temple of Devi Gundicha, their aunt. The celebration ends nine days later with Bahuda Yatra or the return journey of the three to their temple. The rituals started early in the morning.
The ‘pahandi’ of the deities began around 10.30 am, when the three gods along with Lord Sudarsana were taken out in a procession to their chariots parked in front of the temple as the entire Bada Danda.
After the deities were placed on their respective chariots, Puri King Gajapati Divyasingh Dev performed ‘chhera panhara’. Then the pulling of chariots began.