Puri: Lakhs of devotees from across the state and abroad have converged at this pilgrim city to witness the Bahuda Yatra — the return journey of the three sibling deities Friday.
Amid the beating of gongs, cymbals, blowing of conchs and ‘Hori Bol’ chantings, pahandi rituals of Lord Sudarshan started at 9:15am and he was ensconced in the ‘Nandighosh’ chariot at 9:30am. At 9:20am, the pahandi rituals of Lord Balabhadra began and at 10:00am he reached his chariot ‘Taladhwaja’. The pahandi rituals of Devi Subhadra and Lord Jagannath started at 9:20am and 10:00am respectively and reached their respective chariots ‘Darpadalan’ and ‘Nandighosh’ at 10:20am and 11:05am respectively.
Lord Jagannath was seated on his 45-feet high chariot ‘Nandighosh’, Lord Balabhadra on 44-feet high ‘Taladhwaja’ and Subhadra in 43-feet high ‘Darpadalan’.
Gajapati Maharaja of Puri Dibyasingha Deb performed the ‘Chhera Pahanra’ ritual, the ceremonial sweeping of the chariots with a golden broom and sprinkled flowers and fragrant water.
The chariots were then pulled by devotees, who flocked from across the country and abroad, on ‘Bada Danda’ – the grand avenue leading to Shri Jagannath temple – up to the Lion’s gate in front of the 12th century Jagannath temple, where they would be stationed till July 15.
Shri Jagannath Temple is about three kilometers from Gundicha Temple.
The idols 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 idols would be decorated with ‘suna besha’ or golden attire Saturday on their chariots.
Police personnel and para-military forces were deployed in the pilgrim town to ensure smooth celebrations of the return car festival, a senior police officer said.
“Elaborate security arrangements were made for smooth conduct of the return car festival,” Inspector General of Police (Central Range) Soumendra Priyadarshi said. A large number of CCTVs were also installed on ‘Bada Danda’, he added.