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JAGANNATH PURI: The chariots of Lord Jagannath and his siblings, Balabhadra and Devi Subhadra reached Gundicha temple on Friday amid chants of “Jai Jagannath”, “Hari Bolo” and blowing of conches and beating of cymbals by lakhs of devotees. The Gajapati Maharaja of Puri, Dibyasingh Deb, arrived in his royal palanquin and carried out the Chhera Panhara ritual, the ceremonial sweeping of the chariots with a golden broom, amid chanting of hymns by the priests.

In the last two years, the Rath Yatra was conducted without participation of people due to COVID-19 pandemic. As this year, devotees were allowed, the Bada Danda swelled with a sea of humanity despite severe humidity. Odisha Governor Ganeshi Lal, Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik, Orissa High Court Chief Justice S. Muralidhar, Union Ministers Dharmendra Pradhan, Ashwini Vaishnaw, Bishweswar Tudu and several state ministers were present on the occasion and pulled the chariot of Lord Jagannath.   

More than 180 platoons of police personnel, including 1,000 officers of various ranks, were deployed in and around Puri to ensure safe conduct of the festival. The Rath Yatra was also celebrated in various other places of Odisha including Bhubaneswar, Baripada, Keonjhar and Koraput with participation of thousands of devotees.

BARIPADA: A day after people congregated in large numbers at the Jagannath temple in Baripada town in Mayurbhanj district during the Rath Yatra, the administration clamped Section 144 around the temple premises. A senior police officer said that the prohibitor order had been invoked within a 500-metre radius of the temple and would remain in force till the Bahuda Yatra.

He said that three platoons of police and 20 officers had been deployed near the temple to prevent any untoward situation. Though the temple remained closed in accordance with the Supreme Court’s directive in view of the COVID-19 pandemic, there was a large congregation of devotees in front of the temple on Monday. The Odisha Government’s decision to allow Rath Yatra only in Puri without devotees in view of the COVID-19 pandemic has not gone down well with the sevayats (servitors) of Jagannath Temple here.

KENDRAPARA: The Taladwaja chariot of Lord Baladevjew was stuck at the roadside while being pulled by devotees towards the Mausima temple after it hit an electric pole near Raghunathjew Math. The pulling of the chariot was stopped as it suffered damage due to an accident.

The chariot was pulled to the Mausima temple on Monday, which was a deviation from the tradition.  Servitors alleged that the accident occurred due to neglect by the district administration. On the day of Rath Yatra, the chariot could be pulled to a distance of 100 metres only as it met with the unfortunate accident due to alleged faulty management.

The endowment department, on the other hand, clarified that the accident happened due to faulty driving by the charioteer. According to Balabhadra Patri, an endowment official, neither the department nor the district administration had anything to do with the mishap.

Thousands of devotees, however, were left disappointed as they failed to get an opportunity to pull the chariot after two years of restrictions due to COVID-19.

Kendrapara town is known as Tulasi Khetra, where Baladevjew is the presiding deity of the Baladevjew temple.

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