Bhubaneswar: A heavy downpour in Puri did not prevent devotees from joining up for the celebrated and world famous annual Lord Jagannath Rath Yatra on Sunday.
Lakhs of people congregated in Puri to witness Lord Jagannath, Lord Balabhadra and Devi Subhadra being taken in three giant wooden chariots by devotees on the Bada Danda (Grand Road) towards the Gundicha temple.
This annual journey of the three deities from the Jagannath temple to the temple of Devi Gundicha, their aunt, has been observed and undertaken since the 12th century. It is a nine-day-long celebration that ends with the Bahuda Yatra or the return journey to their temple.
Rituals linked to the festival started this morning. The 'pahandi' of the deities began around 10.30 a.m., when the three gods along with Lord Sudarsana are taken out in a procession to their chariots parked in front of the temple as the entire 'Bada Danda' reverberates with the sounds of ghanta (cymbals), kahali (type of flute), mahuri (a double reeded instrument), pakhauja (a variant of mridangam), mardal (similar to pakhawaj) and bells.
After the deities are placed on their respective chariots, Puri king Gajapati Divyasingh Dev performed the 'Chhera Panhara' , and thereafter, the pulling of chariots over a three-kilometer-long stretch began.
Security was tight as the chariot procession began.