Ahmedabad: Amid tight security, the 137th edition of Lord Jagannath`s rathyatra began here this morning from the ancient Jagannath Temple in Jamalpur area.
As per the century old tradition, elephants had the first glimpse of Lord Jagannath and are leading the procession through different parts of the city.
After setting off from the over 400 year-old iconic temple, the rathyatra will traverse through about 14 kilometre route in the city.
Gujarat Chief Minister Anandi Patel performed the `Pahind Vidhi` for the rathyatra with a `golden-broom` (symbolic cleaning of the path for chariot of Lord Jagannath).
"On Ashaadhi Dooj (second day of waxing moon cycle in the Hindu month of Ashadh), performed Pahind Vidhi to mark the beginning of Rath Yatra of Lord Jagannath," Anandi Patel said on twitter.
Patel said she prayed for the well-being of the people of Gujarat on this occasion. "Prayed for the well-being of the people of Gujarat. May Lord Jagannath shower his choicest blessings on all of us," Patel tweeted after performing the Pahind Vidhi.
The first woman chief minister of Gujarat also pulled the chariot, after which the procession of Lord Jagannath, brother Lord Baldev and their sister Subhadra began.
The procession halts at Saraspur, where the local people offer `Maha Bhoj` to the entire entourage. Saraspur area of the city has religious significance as it is considered as Lord Jagannath`s maternal home.
The chariot festival is celebrated on the second day of Shukla Paksha (waxing cycle of moon) in the month of Ashadh, popularly known as Ashadhi Bij.
Elaborate security measures have been put in place to ensure peaceful passage of the rathyatra where lakhs of people from the city and outside would participate.
The procession will pass through 127 localities, including some sensitive areas like Kalupur, Prem Darwaja, Delhi Chakla, Dariyapur and Shahpur in the old city, amid tight security arrangements.
To avoid any attempts to breach communal harmony in the city, police will keep a vigil in the sensitive areas through `Netra` - an Unmanned Aerial Vehicle (UAV).
The procession would comprise 18 elephants, 100 trucks, 30 religious congregations, 18 singing troupes, three chariots and seven cars.
There is a heavy deployment of the state police and Central Armed Paramilitary Forces for the event.
Eight IG and DIG-level officers, 39 SPs, 76 DySPs, 222 police inspectors, 759 police sub-inspectors,266 police women, 12,050 constables along with 36 companies of the Gujarat State Reserve Police (SRP) are part of the security cover.
Several companies of Central Reserve Police Force (CRPF), Border Security Force (BSF), Central Industrial Security Force (CISF), Rapid Action Force (RAF) and 4,500 homeguards are guarding the procession.
Eighty CCTV cameras installed along the route are keeping a close watch and live feeds will be monitored by the main control room by the police.