The 141st Rath Yatra of Lord Jagannath commenced this morning in the city amid tight security as lakhs of devotees flocked to the 18km route to catch a glimpse of the deity.
Gujarat Chief Minister Vijay Rupani and Deputy Chief Minister Nitin Patel performed ‘Pahind Vidhi’ – a symbolic ritual of cleaning the way for the chariots using a golden broom.
The chariots of Lord Jagannath, his brother Balbhadra and sister Subhadra, then embarked on the yatra from the 400- year-old Jagannath Temple in the Jamalpur area.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi greeted people on the occasion and hoped Lord Jagannath’s blessings will help the country scale new heights of development.
“Greetings on the auspicious occasion of Rath Yatra.
With the blessings of Lord Jagannath, may our country scale new heights of growth. May every Indian be happy and prosperous. Jai Jagannath!” the PM tweeted.
Before the annual Rath Yatra started, BJP president Amit Shah performed “mangla aarti” (auspicious ritual to pay obeisance to Lord) of the deities in the temple during the early hours.
Besides the three chariots of Lord Jagannath, his brother Balram and sister Subhadra, the Rath Yatra procession comprised 18 decorated elephants, 101 trucks with tableaux, members of 30 religious groups and 18 singing troupes.
The Rath Yatra is taken out every year on Ashadhi Bij, the second day of Ashad month, as per the Hindu calender.
The procession will come back to the temple at 8.30 pm today after passing through the Old City, including some communally sensitive areas like Jamalpur, Kalupur, Shahpur and Dariyapur.
Over 20,200 personnel drawn from the city police, Home Guards, the State Reserve Police (SRP) and para-military forces were deployed at strategic locations along the 18km-long yatra route to prevent any untoward incident.