Puri: A woman was killed and three others
were today injured in a stampede during pulling of Ratha Yatra chariots from the Sri Jagannath temple in which hundreds of thousand people took part.
The 65-year-old woman, identified as Bijaylaxmi
Mohanty of Markendeswar Sahi area here, and three others fell
down among the throng of devotees as the chariots were being
pulled, Chief District Medical Officer (CDMO), Puri, Narahari
They were taken to a hospital where doctors declared
the woman brought dead.
The condition of three others was stated to be stable,
The incident took place near Gajapati king`s palace,
about one kilometer from the 12th century temple.
Mohanty fell down as the `Taladwaja`, the chariot of
Lord Balabhadra, was being pulled, police said.
Lakhs of devotees and tourists have thronged this temple town for the annual Rath Yatra.
The ceremonial processions of the deities known as Pahandi (carrying the deities out of the temple to the chariots) started at 8.20 a.m., about an hour before the scheduled time, Laxmidhar Pujapanda, the temple`s public relation officer, told IANS.
The Rath Yatra marks the annual journey of the three deities from the 12th century Jagannath temple in three splendidly decorated wooden chariots, pulled by devotees, to the Gundecha temple, about two kilometres away. The festival culminates nine days later when the deities make their way back home to the Jagannath temple.
By 9 a.m. about four lakh devotees had already reached this temple town, about 55 km from the state capital Bhubaneswar. By evening, the numbers could swell to more than a million, Pujapanda said.
The nine-day chariot festival is held in the Hindu lunar month of Asadha, which falls in June-July.
The state government has made elaborate security arrangements with more than 5,000 policemen deployed across the city to maintain law and order and prevent any untoward incident, a senior state police official involved in the security arrangement told IANS.
Hundreds of policemen in plainclothes are also on duty.
More than a dozen closed circuit security cameras have been installed at various places to keep a watch on troublemakers and manage crowds, the official said.
Bomb detection and disposal squads and fire tender units are also ready to meet emergencies. The coast guard, which has stationed a ship in the Bay of Bengal close to the Puri coast, has also intensified patrolling along the sea route, he said.