Stage set for Puri Car festival, President Murmu to participate in Rath Yatra

Puri (Odisha),(| The stage is set for the annual Rath Yatra of Lord Jagannath, his elder brother Balabhadra, and Devi Subhadra, scheduled to commence on Sunday. This year is considered special as Netra Utsav, Nabajouban Darshan, and Rath Yatra will be observed simultaneously on Sunday.

Review meeting on Puri Rath Yatra emphasizes on timely observance of daily rituals of lords

According to the temple almanac, the stipulated fifteen-day Anasar period of the deities has been reduced to thirteen days. This year is also special for the administration as the President of India, Droupadi Murmu, will witness the festival and pull the Rathas on Sunday.In the annals of temple history, neither the President nor the Prime Minister of the country has ever witnessed the Rath Yatra of Lord Jagannath and his siblings.

The administration has made all efforts to observe all three important rituals of the deities on a single day. This will delay the pulling of the chariots on Sunday, which will resume on Monday morning. As per the temple ritual schedule released to the media, the priests will perform regular chores for the deities like Mangal Arati, Abakash, Tadap Lagi, Mailum, Rosa Homa, Surya Puja, and offer Gopal Bhog to the deities. Dutta Mahapatra servitors will make facials for the deities, known as “Banak Lagi,” to give a new youthful look called “Nabajouban Darshan.” The administration has prohibited Paramanik (ticketed) and free darshan of the deities during the Pahandi inside the temple.

The Daita servitors will take hours to fix Chhenapatta, Kusmi, and Bahutakanta, the protective armors, to the bodies of the deities to help them bear the stress during Pahandi. On Sunday, around 1:10 pm, the ceremonial Pahandi of the deities will begin and will be completed by 2:30 pm. Then, Gajapati King Dibyasingh Deb will perform Chherapahanra (sweeping the decks of the three rathas with a gold broom), which will be completed by 4 pm.

The pulling of rathas will begin by 5 pm. Since it will be almost impossible to pull all three chariots to Gundicha temple to maintain tradition, one of the rathas will be pulled a short distance and the pulling will be stopped by evening and will resume on Monday morning.

On Saturday morning, all three rathas were veered from the Rath Khalla (construction yard) to the festival site—Simhadwar—and parked facing east. At around 11 am, the temple Purohit will consecrate all three rathas by performing a “yajna” before mounting the deities on the rathas.

Bahuda Yatra (return car festival) will be held on July 15, and on July 17, the famous Suna Vesha of the deities will be observed. On July 19, the deities will enter the main temple Ratna Simhasan, called Niladri Bije. About 180 platoons of police force, headed by three additional DGPs and several IGs, have been entrusted to ensure the security of the President.

The Badadanda, the venue of the car festival, has been divided into six security zones, with one senior officer in charge of the arrangements in each respective zone. As many as 164 CCTV cameras with artificial intelligence have been installed along the Badadanda and in other parts of the town. Public announcement drones will be used to communicate with the public while senior police officers monitor the entire town and venue from two integrated control rooms.

An elaborate traffic regulation plan is being implemented. Additionally, several units of bomb detection and disposal units, three companies of RAF, and five companies of CRPF have been deployed. The ECoR will run 315 special trains to Puri from different destinations, while hundreds of buses will transport devotees to Puri. The Railway has made provisions for fifteen thousand devotees in temporary shelters erected near the railway station with all basic facilities. It has also opened additional ticket booking and vending counters besides food outlets.

The health department has made provisions for an extra hundred beds for heat stroke patients while running a burn ward. More than a hundred doctors, with additional support staff, have been placed in various hospitals in the town and suburbs. The civic body has improved the health, hygiene, and sanitary conditions of the town while the entire town, including the festival venue, has been illuminated.

On Saturday early morning, Chief Minister Mohan Charan Majhi, along with his two deputies Pravati Parida and Kanak Vardhan Singh Deb, and local MP Sambit Patra, conducted a cleaning operation by sweeping near the Gundicha temple area where the three raths will be parked on arrival at Gundicha temple. The Chief Minister said he wants to send a message to everyone to keep Badadanda always clean. (UNI)