Thousands of devotees have thronged the holy town of Puri in Odisha to witness the new millennium’s first Nabakalebar Rath Yatra which will commence today.Chariot consecration ritual begins at Sri Mandir.
With the pilgrim town celebrating century”s first Nabakalebara Rath Yatra of Lord Jagannath, Odisha government said it is prepared for the smooth conduct of the festival amid fear of a downpour due to a cyclonic formation over the state.
Pahandi, the ritual procession in which the deities are led to the chariots, has begun with Lord Sudarshan. Servitors brought the idol of the Lord out of the temple in a ceremonial procession and placed on the chariot.
Currently the pahandi of Lord Jagannath, Balabhadra and Devi Subhadra is going on.
Earlier in the morning, Mangal Arati ritual of the deities was conducted at 6 am followed by Rosahoma at 6.30 am, Abakash at 7 am, Surya Puja at 7.30.
During the Gopala Ballabha and Sakala Dhupa ritual, the Lords were offered Khichidi Bhog in the sanctum sanctorum. The temple Purohit consecrated the three massive chariots which have been parked outside the Lions’ Gate of the temple.
According to schedule of rituals, the ceremonial ‘Pahandi’ of the deities would be completed by 1 pm. Gajapati Maharaj Dibyasingha Deb, the foremost servitor of the Trinity, would perform the Chherapahanra. The ritual, which entails sweeping of chariots with a golden broom, will begin at 2 pm and end at 3 pm.
“We are working with devotion. All including chariots, devotees, police and administration are ready for the grand festival. We hope it will be smooth with the grace of the Lord,” Odisha Law Minister Arun Sahoo told reporters on Friday. While the administration is expecting about 30 lakh pilgrims, police have deployed about 10,000 personnel besides tightening security in land, air and sea. “Police are well prepared to face any situation.
Besides engagement of many senior officers, 164 platoons of force have been deployed at strategic points. Precautions have been taken to avoid a stampede like situation,” said IGP and officer on special duty Soumendra K Priyadarshi. Meanwhile, the IMD predicted that a cyclonic circulation may take the shape of a low pressure in the next 48 hours resulting in heavy rains in most parts of the state.
As the Deities remained indoors for 45 days this time due to Nabakalebara (change of bodies of the Lords), there is lot of enthusiasm among devotees. About five lakh pilgrims from different states have reached the holy town, district officials said. A large number of people reached the newly constructed bus terminus at Malatipatapur near here. The visitors are provided free bus service from the terminus to the town. 27 parking lots have been constructed for parking of vehicles.
Over 500 hotels, 200 lodges, 100 mutts and dharmasalas will accommodate visitors besides state government”s temporary shelters. “The state government has set up 33 Nabakalebara villages across the town to accommodate the tourists,” said tourism and culture secretary Arabinda Kumar Padhee. Arrangements have also been made for facilities like health service, drinking water and sanitation.
Besides Gajapati, Puri Gobardhan Peeth Shankaracharya Nischilanand Saraswati, along with his coterie, visits the chariots and has darshan of the deities. Then begins the chariot pulling one by one in the afternoon to reach the destination of Gundicha temple from Shree Mandir.
The deities will have a nine-day sojourn at the Gundicha temple. And, they return to Shree Mandir only after completion of the nine-day Yatra on the same chariots called ‘Bahuda Yatra’ (return car festival).
The Nabakalebar festival, which started on March 29, will conclude on July 27 after the Suna Besha on the chariots itself.
Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik, Union Ministers Mahesh Sharma, Dharmendra Pradhan and Jual Oram, and state ministers are scheduled to visit the town to witness the Nabakalebara Rath Yatra being held after 19 years. The last Nabakalebara festival was held in 1996. More than 200 CCTV cameras have been fitted across the city with an integrated surveillance control room near the Jagannath Temple.