Odisha Sun Times Bureau
Bhubaneswar, Apr 14:
Braving the intense heat wave conditions prevailing in the city, thousands of devotees today participated in the famous Rukuna Rath Yatra of Lord Lingaraj, the presiding deity of Odisha’s capital city on the occasion of Ashokastami.
The Mangal Alati, Abakash Niti and other rituals associated with this auspicious occasion were performed between 5 am and 5.30 am at the 11th century Lingaraj temple followed by Sahan Mela Darshan.
The bronze statues of three deities-Chandrashekhar, Rukmini and Basudev were brought to the 35-feet high chariot in style amid wild cheers, beating of drums and gongs, blowing of conch shells and chant of hymns around 1.30 pm before the chariot started rolling towards the Rameswar temple (also known as Mausi Maa Temple) where the deities would rest for 4 days.
The pulling of chariot began at 5.10 pm with the reverberating chants. However, it stopped at Badheibanka Chhak and will be pulled to its destination on Friday afternoon.
The uniqueness of Rukuna Rath or chariot is that it never takes a turn like the chariots of Lord Jagannath, Lord Balabhadra and Devi Subhadra in Puri and that explains why it is called “ana- leuta” or something which never takes a turn.
When this chariot returns on the fifth day, after a four-day sojourn at Mausima temple, the chariot is drawn from behind. It is the only altar on which the deities are placed, which changes direction on the day of homecoming.
Elaborate security arrangements were put in place by Commissionerate Police and temple administration for smooth passage of the festival. As many as 15 platoons of police personnel including two ADCPs, 11 ACPs, 15 Inspectors, 93 SIs and 70 Home Guards were deployed to maintain law and order.
Similarly, an ACP (Traffic) and Inspector oversaw the traffic arrangements. As many as nine traffic officials, 12 traffic havildars, 39 constables and 30 Home Guards were deployed to regulate traffic.
This apart, 13 routes connecting to the temple were sealed from 12 noon in view of the pulling of the chariots.