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Here's Why Puri Nabakalebara Rath Yatra Is Century's Biggest

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| July 18 , 2015 , 08:18 IST
Around 15 lakh devotees witnessed the century's first Nabakalebar Rath Yatra of Lord Jagannath which was marred by stampede like situation in which two women were killed and 10 others injured here on Saturday. Festivities during the world famous festival were marred by stampede like situation during pulling of chariots on the Grand Avenue in which two women were killed and around ten others injured, a senior officer said. "Two women died in the incident and some injured persons were taken to district headquarters hospital," Chief District Medical Officer (CDMO) of Puri, Gyanendra Sahu said. Two of the injured persons were referred to SCB Medical College as their condition was critical, he said. Barring the mishap caused by pushing and shoving on the Grand Road which saw a massive surge of humanity, the festival passed off peacefully, DGP Sanjeev Marik said. [caption id="attachment_84514" align="aligncenter" width="700"]Rath Yatra 2015, Nabakalebara Lord Jagannath, Puri Police forces pull a chariot to set in front of the Lord Jagannath temple on the eve of the annual Rath Yatra, or Chariot procession at Puri, 65 kilometers (40 miles) away from Bhubaneswar in Odisha. (Photo: PTI)[/caption] Lakhs of devotees from across the world converged at the pilgrim town 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. Devotees from all walks of life made a beeline to the town since Friday for the world famous annual festival of chariots to catch a glimpse of the presiding deities of the 12th century shrine of Sri Jagannath. A host of VVIPs including Governor S C Jamir and Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik witnessed the mega event. Also present were Union Tourism Minister Mahesh Sharma, Tribal Affairs Minister Jual Oram and Oil Minister Dharmendra Pradhan. 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. ALSO READ: Rath Yatra 2015: All You Need To Know About The Nabakalebara Yatra "Naba Jaubana Darshan" of deities was held yesterday as they remained confined in "Anasara Pindi" (recovery chamber) after the grand bath on "Snana Purnima" on June 2. 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. "Besides engagement of many senior officers, 164 platoons of force were deployed at strategic points," IGP and Officer on Special Duty Soumendra K Priyadarshi said. ALSO READ: Interesting Facts About Puri Rath Yatra And Lord Jagannath Temple "We are working with devotion. All including chariots, devotees, police and administration are ready for the grand festival. We hope it will be smooth with the grace of the Lord," Odisha Law Minister Arun Sahoo said earlier Saturday. Odisha government has also deployed over 10,000 policemen for crowd management and to thwart any possible terror-incident. "We are ready to face any exigencies during the festival. We have made elaborate security arrangement and sections of our police force are in sync with each other round the clock," said Puri's Superintendent of Police Asish Singh. A five-layered security cordon has been put in place in Puri while over 200 closed-circuit television (CCTV) cameras have been installed to keep a close vigil on the tourists' movement in the city. Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik has deputed four ministers and an army of bureaucrats to supervise the smooth functioning of the festival. ALSO READ: Five Reasons Why You Must Visit Puri Once In A Lifetime Meanwhile, a milling crowd was anxiously waiting for the 'Nabajauban Darshan' of the deities on the eve of the Rath Yatra. But this Nabakalebar year has debarred them from the darshan as per the Shree Jagannath Temple Administration's (SJTA) decision taking into consideration Saturday's grand festival. According to SJTA, the darshan, if permitted to devotees, could delay the rituals for a timely and smooth conduct of the Rath Yatra. Such a plea has already been deposed by the SJTA before the Odisha high court. On Friday, after the initial early morning and morning hour rituals in the sanctum sanctorum, the four deities -- Shri Sudarshan, Lord Balabhadra, Devi Subhadra and Lord Jagannath -- are brought to the chariots on the Bada Danda (grand road) individually in a grand procession by the temple servitors. Then, the prime ritual of the day 'Chhera Pahanra' (sweeping of the chariots) is solemnised by Puri Gajapati Dibya Singhdev followed by sprinkling of holy water and sandal. This is a symbolic gesture by the king to convey the divine message of dignity of labour and equality. Besides Gajapati, Puri Gobardhan Peeth Shankaracharya Nischilanand Saraswati, along with his coterie, visits the chariots and has darshan of the deities. Then begins the chariot pulling one by one in the afternoon to reach the destination of Gundicha temple from Shree Mandir. The deities will have a nine-day sojourn at the Gundicha temple. And, they return to Shree Mandir only after completion of the nine-day Yatra on the same chariots called 'Bahuda Yatra' (return car festival). The Nabakalebar festival, which started on March 29, will conclude on July 27 after the Suna Besha on the chariots itself.

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