Puri, Amidst covid restriction, tight security, curfew and lock down, the presiding deities of Sri Jagannath temple–Lord Jagannath, Lord Balavadra and Devi Subhadra—began their nine day sojourn today in the absence of devotees

The world famous rath yatra of Lord Jagannath in this pilgrim city every year witnessed by lakhs of devotees from across the country who thronged the three km long Grand road (Bada danda) to have the glimpse of the trinity on their respective chariot .

But for the second consecutive year due to the covid pandemic the grand festival of Rath yatra only in Puri is being observed without the participation of the devotees

The district administration clamped curfew since last night ,sealed all the entry points to Puri, deployed 65 platoons of police force and stopped plying of bus and train services to ensure that the annual Rath yatra conducted without the devotees

The daily rituals began with the offering of Gopal bhog ( breakfast)to Lord Jagannath, his elder brother Lord Balavadra and sister Devi Subhadra before they were taken out from the ‘Ratnavedi’ of the sanctum sanctorum in a ceremonial ‘pahandi bije’ to their respective well-decorated chariots parked outside the 12th century edifice at lions gate of the temple.

“Haribol and Jai Jagannath” rented the air as the daitapatis,the temple servitors took the deities on their shoulders from the temple amidst blowing of conch shells through Ananda Bazar and the ‘baishi Pahacha’ to the Lions Gate under tight security.

As per rituals, Lord Balavadra was first taken out of the ‘ratna vedi’ and installed in the chariot called ‘Taladhawaja’ through the ceremonial ‘pahandi bije’, followed by Devi Subhadra to the ‘Darpadalan Chariot’.

Lord Jagannath, called ‘kalia’ by lakhs of devotees, was the last one to be taken out and installed in the ‘Nandighosh’ chariot.

After the three deities were installed on the chariots, Sankaracharya Swami Nischalananda Saraswati of Gobardhan mutt along with six of his followers had darshan of the deities on their respective chariot and offered prayer as per the invitation of the jagannath temple administration .

(Agencies)