Odisha Sun Times Bureau
Puri, June 29:
The much-awaited Rath Yatra, one of the grandest annual spectacles in the world, began in Odisha’s holy city of Puri this morning.
Temple official Laxmidhar Pujapanda said more than 500,000 devotees are already in Puri and thenumber could swell up to a million by evening, Pujapanda said.
The festival marks the annual journey of the three deities – Lord Jagannath, his brother Bhalabhadra and sister Subhadra — from the 12th century Jagannath temple to the Gundicha temple, three kilometres away.
The festival ends after nine days when the deities make their way back to the Jagannath temple.
Delay in morning rituals
The morning rituals of the Lords were delayed by over two hours.
As a result, the Pahandi Bije of the Lords that was scheduled at 9 AM began after 11 am.
The Pahandi Bije, the stylised ritual of the Lords Jagannath and Balabhadra as well as Devi Subhadra and Sudarshan stepping out of their abode Srimandir towards their respective chariots is underway.
The pahandi bije of Lord Sudarshan is complete after He was placed in the Darpadalan or Devadalan chariot of Devi Subhadra .
After Devi Subhadra and Lord Balabhadra are placed on their respective chariots Debadalana and Taladhwaja, the pahandi of Lord Jagannath began.
The process of placing the Lords on their chariots is expected to be complete by 2 PM, sources in the Sri Jagannath Temple Administration (SJTA) said.
Chariot pulling is scheduled to begin at 3 pm.
Pahandi Bije: A rare sight
The journey of the deities from the sanctum sanctorum to their respective chariots on the day of the Rath Yatra is a grand spectacle that involves rythmic movement of the deities amid processions accompanied by beating of cymbals, drums and chantings.
Known also as ‘Dhadi Pahandi’, the deities, adorned with giant floral crowns known as Tahias, move one after the other in close succession. While Devi Subhadra and Lord Sudarshan are carried on shoulders of the servitors, the large-sized wooden idols of Lord Balabhadra and Subhadra move in a unique rythm to the beat of drums and cymbals.
The Pahandi Bije of these two deities are a rare sight indeed.