Lakhs of devotees have descended at Puri in Odisha today, for the nine-day annual Rath Yatra festival. The Jagannatha Temple in the state is celebrating its 141st Ratha Yatra this year. On this day Lord Jagannath and his two siblings, Balaram and Subhadra, visit their aunt at the Gundicha Temple around three kilometres away.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi tweeted his greetings on Ratha Yatra. "With the blessings of Lord Jagannath, may our country scale new heights of growth. May every Indian be happy and prosperous," the Prime Minister said in his Tweet.
Greetings on the auspicious occasion of Rath Yatra.— Narendra Modi (@narendramodi) July 14, 2018
With the blessings of Lord Jagannath, may our country scale new heights of growth. May every Indian be happy and prosperous.
Jai Jagannath! pic.twitter.com/1Ifrxueaiu
Mythology says Lord Jagannath is a reincarnation of Lord Vishnu. It is derived from two words 'jagat' and 'nath' which means 'lord of the universe'. The three deities of Lord Jagannath , Balaram and Subhadra are unique and unlike most other deities with human form. It is dark and shapeless with large round eyes.
There are several stories behind the shapeless form of Lord Jagannath. One of them says, when King Subal, who was a devotee of Lord Jagannath wanted a deity of the god made, he ignored the condition laid down by the sculptor and went inside the room, where he was working. The sculptor left leaving the unfinished deities. Locals say till today those unfinished deities are being worshiped at the temple in Puri.
Senior officials in Odisha have said elaborate security arrangements have been made for the festival to go on smoothly. The railway police have increased vigil at Puri and Bhubaneswar railway stations, 120 CCTV cameras have been installed at sensitive locations and the Coast Guard has stepped up sea patrolling off the coast of Puri.
NSG commandos and 140 platoons of police force have been deployed all along the route where devotees have lined up to pull the chariot.
Apart from Puri, Rath Yatra is also celebrated in a big way in Gujarat and many parts of eastern India. Outside India, Rath Yatra is celebrated in London, New York and a few other places.