Rath Yatra 2024: Puri Erupts in Religious Fervour as Chariot Pulling Begins

Puri: Puri erupted in joyous fervour today as devotees from across the globe converged for the Rath Yatra, the Chariot Festival. The monumental event, usually a one-day affair, takes on a special significance this year, spanning two days due to rare astronomical alignments.

President Droupadi Murmu herself graced the occasion. An estimated million devotees, both local and international, thronged the temple town, their chants of “Jai Jagannath” and “Haribol” echoing through the streets.

The festivities began earlier in the day with the completion of the elaborate “Pahandi” ritual, where the deities were majestically brought from the temple sanctum to their respective chariots – the towering Taladhwaja for Lord Balabhadra, the Darpadalan for Devi Subhadra, and the magnificent Nandighosa for Lord Jagannath.

Following the “Chhera Pahanra” (chariot-sweeping) ceremony by Puri’s King, the colossal wooden structures, each nearly 45 feet tall, were set in motion by enthusiastic devotees at around 5 PM. Rhythmic beats of cymbals and drums accompanied the procession as it snaked its way through the throngs of pilgrims, their unbridled devotion palpable.

President Murmu performed a ‘parikrama’ and paid obeisance to the deities. Alongside her, Odisha Governor Raghubar Das, Chief Minister Mohan Charan Majhi, Union Minister Dharmendra Pradhan, and Leader of Opposition Naveen Patnaik also participated, symbolically pulling the ropes of Lord Jagannath’s chariot.

Cultural performances like Odissi dances and soul-stirring “kirtans” further enriched the atmosphere. The air thrummed with an electric energy as devotees, some even from faraway lands, revelled in this once-in-a-lifetime experience, cementing the Rath Yatra’s place as one of the world’s largest religious processions.

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