Ahmedabad: Lord Jagannath`s annual Rathyatra passed off peacefully amid tight security here today.
The procession passed through communally sensitive Kalupur, Dariyapur and Shahpur areas which had witnessed communal violence in the past. But in the last decade, it has become a symbol of communal harmony with people of all communities participating in it.
Minority community leaders in these areas greeted the procession with flowers today and pigeons were released into air.
Despite a heavy police presence, people came out on the streets to watch the procession consisting of 19 decorated elephants, 98 truck-mounted tableaux mirroring various facets of Indian culture and three aesthetically decorated chariots, of Lord Jagannath, Lord Balram and their sister Subhadra.
As per the tradition, Gujarat Chief Minister Narendra Modi performed `Pahind Vidhi` (symbolic path-cleaning for the chariot of Lord Jagannath) after which the Rathyatra began here from the Jagannath temple.
Modi wished that the Lord bless the poor and the farmers with rains and bring them prosperity.
A lLarge number of devotees lined up along the 14-km route. Children vied to get the candy distributed by groups of devotees while trailing the chariots.
The procession took a break at Saraspur, considered to be the maternal home of Lord Jagannath, where `Maha Bhoj` was served to more than 1.5 lakh people.
After a two-hour halt at Saraspur, the yatra returned to the 400-year-old Lord Jagannath temple.
Around 20,000 security personnel, including police, homeguards, SRPs and para-military forces were deployed.