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Three chariots of Lord Balabhadra, Devi Subhadra and Lord Jagannath reached Saradhabali,

Puri: 8/7/24:With the arrival of the magnificent Taladhwaja, Darpadalana and Nandighosa-the three chariots of Lord Balabhadra, Devi Subhadra and Lord Jagannath at the Saradhabali, in front of the Gundicha Temple, culminated the first leg of the 9-day long Rath Yatra.

This year, the first leg of the Rath Yatra -Gundicha Yatra-the journey from Ratna Bedi (bejewelled throne of the Sri Mandir) to Janma Bedi (birthplace) was held for two days- a rare ritual that happened after a gap of 53 years.

This Rath Yatra is considered unique for the celestial occurrence of Netra Utsav, Nabajoubana Darshan and Gundicha Yatra being held on the same day. A similar celestial arrangement had occurred 53 years ago, in 1971. Thus the event attracted over 10 lakh devotees on the first day of the Gundicha Yatra.

Pulling of the chariots resumed today to the cries of Hari Bol,  Jai Jagannath and hulhuli around 10.00 AM today-the first being Lord Balabhadra’s Taladhwaja, followed by Devi Subhadra’s Darpadalana and Lord Jagannath’s Nandighosha.

The crowd of devotees was thin today as compared to that of over 10 lakh on Sunday who had gathered on the Bada Danda to pull the chariots

On Sunday, the first day of the two-day Gundicha Yatra, the pulling of the chariots was halted after sunset.

While the Taladhwaja halted at Marichkote Chhak, the Darpadalana halted near Srikrishna Cinema Hall and Nandighosa, a few metres away from the Singhadwara.

Barring the tragic incident of the death of an elderly devotee Lalit Bagarti of suffocation and several others injured in the stampede-like situation, the rituals were completed ahead of schedule and everything else went off peacefully.

Police had taken elaborate arrangements to ensure devotees have a smooth darshan of the sibling deities atop the Raths.  A foolproof crowd control plan was drawn to prevent any untoward incident. For the first time, AI-enabled cameras and drones were used by the police to flag crowd pressure points so that policemen could decongest those places.

Apart from the 10 lakh devotees, President Droupadi Murmu took part in the Rath Yatra celebrations on Sunday.

Amid tight security, the President bowed before the chariots and sought the blessings of the deities. She also pulled the chariot of Devi Subhadra.

Sources said this is the first time the President took part in the Rath Yatra.

About Editor in chief

Ashok Palit has completed his graduation from Upendranath College Soro, Balasore and post graduation from Utkal University in Odia Language and literture.. He has also carved out a niche for himself as a scribe of eminence after joining the profession in 1988. He is also an independent media production professional. He brings loads of experience to Advanced Media, Ashok Palit as a cineaste has been active in film criticism for over three decades. As a film society activist, he soared to eminence for his profound commitment to the art film appreciation and aesthetics of cinema. His mode of discourse is often erudite but always lucid and comprehensible marked by a perfect acumen so rare in the field. A film aesthete with an immense fond of critical sensibilities, he wrote about growth and development of odia cinema in New Indian Express, The Times of India, The Hindustan Times, The Asian Age and Screen. He has been working as an Editor for Cine Samaya from 2002-2004.. He had made solid contribution on cinema in many odia Dailies and weekly such as Samaj, Prajatantra, Dharatri, Samaya, Satabadi, and weekly Samaya.

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