Puri: The much awaited Ratha Yatra in Puri began with the rolling of all the three Chariots on Bada Danda on Saturday. The procession began with the rolling of the ‘Taladhwaja’ of Lord Balabhadra, the elder brother, on the ‘Bada Danda’. This marked the beginning of His sojourn to Shree ‘Gundicha or the ‘Mausima Mandir’, which would take nine days to complete.
Following next is the ‘Darpadalana’ of Devi Subhadra, which is rolled down the Bada Danda. The chariot is right behind that of Lord Balabhadra, Her elder brother and has Lord Sudarshan by Her side. Revered as the pilot of the deities, Lord Sudarshan makes sure that their path is clear during the ‘Pahandi Bije’. Finally, ‘Nandighosh’, the last the chariot of Lord Jagannath follows the first two chariots along the crowded road. The procession witnesses the undying faith and devotion of lakhs of devotees, who pull the chariot of Lord Jagannath with great devotion. Puri welcomed a large number of pilgrims on Saturday, who gathered here to be a part of the first Nabakalebara Rath Yatra of the century. They were all here to have the darshan of the sacred idols, which have been newly carved for the grand ceremony.
The Pahandi or procession ritual of the deities marked the beginning of the eagerly awaited Yatra. The procession started with the chariot of Lord Sudarshan, which was followed by Lord Balabhadra, Devi Subhadra and Lord Jagannath, in that order. Before the chariots rolled down the road, there was a ceremony in which the idols were brought out of the temple by the servitors. The sacred idols of the deities were then placed on the chariots in the following ritual.
Shankaracharya of Govardhan Peeth Swami Nischalananda Saraswati, along with his 6 disciples, proceeded to the chariots for the darshan of the idols. After the removal of the ladders from the chariots and attachment of the woden horses to them, Gajapati Maharaja Divya Singha Deb performed ancient tradition of the Chherapahanra, which involves the chariots being swept with broom. Finally, the procession started at 3.35 pm, with the devotees pulling the chariot of Lord Balabhadra, and the chariots of Devi Subhadra and Lord Jagannath coming next.