Odisha Sun Times Bureau
Puri, June 29:
Pulling of chariots began in Odisha’s holy city Puri amid the beating of drums, cymbals and chantings with devotees dragging Lord Balabhadra’s chariot Taladhwaja with the help of sacred ropes along its destination, the Sri Gundicha temple, three kms away from the Srimandir.
As per practice Devi Subhadra’s chariot Debadalana rolls only after elder brother Balabhadra’s chariot reaches a place called Charchika Modo on the Bada Danda or the Grand Road.
Lord Jagannath’s chariot Nandighosha will be the last one to roll.
Earlier, after the spectacular Dhadi Pahandi or Pahandi Bije, the deities – Lord Sudarshan, Devi Subhadra, Lord Balabhadra and Lord Jagannath along with their chalanti pratimas or the representative deities Rama Krushna of Lord Balabhadra and Madan Mohana of Lord Jagannath- were placed atop their respective chariots.
After this the king of Puri Gajapati Dibyasingha Deb, the first servant or the Adya sevaka of Lord Jagannath, arrived on a richly decorated palanquin known as the tamzan to perform the ritual of floor sweeping or Chhera Pahanra.
Chhera Pamhara on the chariots is symbolic rite which signifies that the king like just anybody else is but a humble servant of the real sovereign, Lord Jagannath.
On completion of the Chhera Pannhara ritual king Dibyasingh Deb returned to his palace.
A noteworthy feature of this year’s Rath Yatra is that the Jagadguru Shankaracharya of the Gobardhan Peeth, who performs certain customary rituals atop the chariots, stayed away this time following a bitter controversy over his right to visit the chariots along with his assistants.