Puri: Lakhs of devotees from across
the country and abroad thronged the pilgrim town of Puri today
to witness `Bahuda Yatra`, the return car festival of Lord
Jagannath amidst tight security.
Winding up their nine-day annual sojourn to their
auht`s abode, Lord Jagannath, elder brother Lord Balabhadra
and their sister Devi Subhadra set off their return journey to
the 12th century shrine on three majestic wooden chariots.
A host of special rituals were performed before the
deities moved out of the Gundicha temple to the three
colourfully decorated chariots for the return journey as sound
of `Jai Jagannath` rent the air in the seashore town.
The three deities were then taken to the chariots in
an elaborate royal ritual called `Pahandi` to the beating of
gongs, cymbals and konch shells as devotees and `sevayats`
(worshippers) jostled to have a closer look and to touch them.
Jagannath was ensconsed in the largest of the
chariots, 45-feet high `Nandighosh` which has 16 huge wooden
wheels. The chariot of Balabhadra was the 14-wheeled 44 feet
high `Taladhwaja` and that of Subhadra known as `Darpadalan`
with 12 wheels and standing 43 feet high.
The Gajapati King of Puri, Divya Singha Deb arrived
from his palace on a silver-plated palanquin for the `Chhera
Pahanra` ritual. He offered prayers to the deity and then
swept the platforms with a golden broom and sprinkled flowers
and fragrant water.
The giant chariots were pulled by devotees on "bada
danda", the grand avenue up to the lion`s gate in front of Sri
Jagannath temple where they would be stationed till Friday.
The deities would be decorated with `suna besha`,
golden attire, tomorrow on the chariots, which is expected to
attract a large number of devotees.