Puri: Ratha Yatra – the Annual Chariot festival of Lord Jagannath is going to be celebrated tomorrow with much fanfare. Temple city Puri is all set to welcome the devotees of Jagannath on this occasion. The biggest festival is expected to attract more than two million devotees from across the world.
The festivities, which started a fortnight earlier, would peak on this day when the three deities Lord Balabhadra, Devi Subhadra and Lord Jagannath would be taken on huge wooden chariots to their aunt’s house. It is one of the world’s oldest rituals that attract a large number of people. Though a Hindu ritual, Ratha Yatra gives the non-Hindus a chance to have a glimpse of the deities. Mentioned in the old scriptures such as Skanda Purana, Brahama Purana and Padma Purana, the yatra is celebrated on the second day of new moon in the month of July every year.
Lord Jagannath along with his brother Lord Balabhadra and their sister Goddess Subhadra will board the richly decorated chariots which are pulled by the devotees and taken to their aunt’s temple, the Gundicha Mandir.
The district administration has made elaborate arrangements for the biggest festival day of Odisha. Adequate security arrangements along with traffic, parking and crowd management have been on the agenda. Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik himself reviewed the preparations many times in the last month. In view of a large number of people coming to Puri from across India and the world, the authorities have made detailed arrangements. The Shree Jagannath Temple Administration, led by its Administrator Pradipta Mohapatra, has been trying its best to conduct a smooth Yatra. This year’s Ratha Yatra has greater significance for the SJTA, District administration and the State Government as it comes just two months after the Extremely Severe Cyclone Fani that had devastated the temple town and the district extensively.
A robust security arrangement has been put on place in the entire city of Puri. As many as 142 platoons of police, two companies of Rapid Action Force, ODRAF Units, special forces, more than 1000 police officers and more than ten IPS Officers have been entrusted in the security arrangements. The Coast Guard has also been kept in standby to guard the sea coast.
According to IG Soumandra Priyadarshi “Ensuring a smooth and incident-free pulling of chariots along with controlling crowd is the main aim. We have made adequate arrangements for traffic arrangements and parking facilities. While whole city has been secured with CCTV cameras, we are also using drone camera’s to have an eye on crowd and traffic.
The temple administration has set up a number of information centers to help the devotees during the Ratha Yatra. A Ratha Yatra mobile app has also been created in play store to guide the pilgrims. In Puri, 18 parking places have been made available for vehicles coming from outside. Senior IPS Officer Amitabh Thakur has been entrusted with overseeing the overall traffic and crowd management.
Plain clothes police officials along quick action teams will be deployed in all places and three special tactical units have been assigned at the three entry points of the city.