Odisha most celebrated cultural identity and world famous Annual Puri Jagannah rath yatra begins with great joy and devotion in the coastal holy town of Puri on Sunday. The pious occasion has attracted lakhs of tourists across the world in order to get a glimpse of Lord Jagannath, Lord Balabhadra and Devi Subhadra riding three giant wooden chariots to be pulled by the devotees on the Bada Danda (Grand Road) as they travel to Gundicha temple.
The 9 days lasting celebration marks the annual journey of the three deities from 800 years old Jagannath temple to their aunt devi gundicha at gundicha temple located at a distance of 3.6 kms. On the ninth day, The celebration ends with the return journey of the deities to their own temple.
The Journey began at 10.30 AM after several customary rituals performed at the Jagannath temple when the three gods along with Lord Sudarsana were taken out in a procession to their chariots parked in front of the temple as the entire Bada Danda reverberated with the sounds of ghanta (cymbals), kahali (type of flute), mahuri (a double reeded instrument), pakhauja (a variant of mridangam), mardal (similar to pakhawaj) and bells.
When the deities get placed on their respective chariots, The King of Puri Gajapati Divyasingh Dev performed ‘chhera panhara’ a ritual of sweeping the space around the chariot . After this the pulling of chariots began by the devotees using long strong rope tied with them.
People from all religions and walks of life participate in the three-km long procession. Except for Hindus, people from other faiths are not allowed to enter the temple on other days.