At least two people have lost their life while more than 20 people got injured in a stampede during holy Rath Yatra in Puri.
As this is the first Nabakalebar Rath Yatra of Lord Jagannath of this century, the religious festival is being held with fanfare, religious fervour, enthusiasm and a spirit of camaraderie with tight security.
Lakhs of devotees from across the world have descended on the pilgrim town of Puri to witness commencement of the nine-day journey of the new idols of Lord Jagannath, Lord Balabhadra and Devi Subhadra to Gundicha Temple and back to their abode.
Enthusiasm and excitement ran high among devotees as the deities remained indoors for 45 days this time due to Nabakalebara marking change of bodies of the Lords, which took place after a gap of 19 years.
“Naba Jaubana Darshan” of the deities was performed yesterday as they remained confined in “Anasara Pindi” (recovery chamber) after the grand bath on “Snana Purnima” on June 2.
With over 30 lakh pilgrims expected to attend the festivities, police have made elaborate arrangements to provide a thick security cover by deploying about 10,000 personnel besides putting air and coast surveillance in place.
“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 any stampede like situation,” IGP and officer on special duty Soumendra K Priyadarshi said.
Personnel of Anti-Terrotist Squad (ATS), Rapid Action Force (RAF) and sharp shooters have been deployed at vital points while the Coast Guard keeps a vigil on the sea.