Rath Yatra festival begins in Odisha's Puri
Prime Minister Narendra Modi wished the nation on the occasion of the Rath Yatra
The annual Rath Yatra of Lord Jagannath and his siblings began on Wednesday amidst a congregation of lakhs of devotees in Puri.
Lakhs of people have converged to have a glimpse of Lord Jagannath, Lord Balabhadra and Devi Subhadra on the Bada Danda (Grand Road). They will travel to Gundicha temple on three giant wooden chariots to be pulled by the devotees.
A multi-layered security system has been put in place to keep a strict vigil on the movement of people and traffic management as the district administration expects around 10 lakh devotees during the nine-day annual chariot festival, said Director General of Police K. B. Singh.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Wednesday wished the nation on the occasion of the Rath Yatra.
"On the occasion of Rath Yatra, my warmest greetings to you all. May Lord Jagannath continue to shower his blessings on everyone," Modi tweeted.
"May the blessings of Lord Jagannath lead to development of villages, well-being of poor and farmers and take India to new heights of progress," he added.
Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik also greeted the people of Odisha on the occasion of the Rath Yatra.
"Heartfelt greetings on this joyous and most auspicious occasion of #RathaJatra. Jai Jagannath!," Patnaik tweeted.
The Rath Yatra is an annual celebration, marking the journey of the deities from the 12th century Jagannath Temple in the chariots to the temple of Devi Gundicha, their aunt.
The celebration ends nine days later with Bahuda Yatra or return journey to their temple, which will take place on July 14.
The rituals relating to the festival started early on Wednesday morning. The Pahandi of the deities began around 10 a.m. and was completed by 2 p.m.
After the deities are placed on their respective chariots, Puri King Gajapati Dibyasingh Deb will perform Chhera Panhara on the chariots.
After the departure of Gajapati, the chariot pulling would begin, said Shree Jagannath Temple Administration (SJTA) chief Suresh Mohapatra.