Puri: Devotees from across Odisha, India and abroad thronged Grand Road (Bada Danda) in Puri on Saturday to witness the annual Rath Yatra, which began amid pomp and fanfare.
After performing the rituals in the morning like Mangala Alati (6 am), Mailama Lagi ( 6.10 am), Tadapa Lagi and Rosa Homa (6.30 am), Abakasha Niti, Surya Puja and Dwarapala Puja (7 am), Besha Sesha (7.30 am), Gopala Ballabha and Khechudi Bhoga (8 am-9am), Ratha Pratistha (9 am), and Mangalarpana (9.15 am), the Dhadi Pahandi (line procession) of the Lords began at 9.15 am as the Daitapati servitors brought Lord Sundarshan and placed him on the Darpadalana, the chariot of Goddess Subhadra, at around 9.45 am. This was followed by the Pahandi of the Lord Balabhadra at 9.25 am and Devi Subhadra at 10 am. The servitors later began the Pahandi of Lord Jagannath at about 9.55 am.
After three deities are placed on their respective chariots, the servitors would bring Lord Madanmohan between 12.30 pm and 1 PM and place him on the Nandighosa.
The servitors would perform Chitalagi rituals between 1.30 pm and 2 pm after which the Gajapati Maharaja Dibyasingh Deb would come in a procession from the Royal Palace and perform Chhera Panhara (cleaning) of the chariots between 2 pm and 3 pm.
After completion of the ritual, the servitors would remove the Charamala (wooden ladder) and put up the wooden horses on the chariots.
The pulling of the chariots is slated for 4 pm.
Elaborate security arrangements have been made to ensure smooth conduct of the festival.
More than 140 platoons of police force along with National Security Guard (NSG) commandos have been deployed at all sensitive locations of Puri.
Besides, 90 senior police officers in the rank of Additional SP and Inspectors, 3,0000 Sub Inspectors, ASIs, 500 Havildars, and 1200 home guards have also been pressed into service.
A special security cordon has been formed around the three chariots to stop the devotees from coming near to the chariots.
Apart from this, 40 platoons of force have also been engaged to monitor and streamline the traffic flow at various entry points of the town.
To monitor the traffic movement on major routes, 120 CCTV cameras have been installed.
A traffic control room has also been set up at Kumbharapada Police Station. Besides, provisions have been made for the devotees to get real-time traffic updates from the official website of the Puri Police and Facebook page.