Preparations for the annual Rath Yatra of Odisha's Jagannath temple in Puri have gained momentum with carpenters working overtime on the three gigantic wooden chariots that will carry deities in a ceremonial procession, marking commencement of the nine-day festival June 21.
The idols of three Hindu deities - Jagannath, brother Balabhadra and sister Subhadra - are carried in separate splendid chariots from the 12th century temple, about 56 km from the state capital, to the Gundicha temple, about three kilometres away.
A glimpse of the deities is considered auspicious and every year around a million devotees throng the annual procession at the chariot festival. The chariots are pulled with ropes by devotees amid chants of hymns.
Nine days later, the chariots make their return journey known as Bahuda Jatra, which will be organised on June 29 this year.
About 77 carpenters started building the chariots on April 24, the third day of the bright fortnight of Vaisakha month in the Hindu calendar.
"They are doing overtime for the past two days to complete the chariots by June 19," Laxmidhar Pujapanda, the spokesperson of the temple, told IANS.
The chariots of Jagannath, Balabhadra and Subhadra are known as Nandighosh, Taladhwaja and Padmadhwaja respectively. Nandighosh is 45-feet high and has 16 wheels. Its roof is decorated with red and yellow fabric and a wheel is placed on the top of it.
Taladhwaja is 44-feet high and consists of 14 wheels. Its roof is decorated with red and green colours and a fruit is placed on top of this chariot. The 43-foot Padmadhwaja has 12 wheels and red and black colours adorn its roof.
Four intricately carved wooden horses precede each of the chariots.
The state forest department this year provided 618 wooden logs for the construction of the chariots, according to an official.