Lakhs of devotees thronged to pilgrim town Puri as the annual nine-day Ratha Jatra 2022 of Lord Jagannath and his siblings started today (July 1). The annual grand festival was held in 2020 and 2021 amid strict restrictions with any gathering of devotees – who throng Puri in lakhs to participate in the festival –being banned in view of the COVID pandemic.
Amid loud chants of Hari Bola, the Pahandi (procession) of the deities began as the devotees waited outside the 12th-century shrine to have a glimpse of the Trinity–Lord Jagannath, Balabhadra and Goddess Subhadra.
Devotees are eagerly waiting to pull the three majestic chariots, Nandighosa (Lord Jagannath), Taladhwaja (Balabhadra) and Darpadalan (Subhadra), which have been kept ready in front of the 12th-century shrine. After fixing of wooden horses to the chariots, the pulling is scheduled to start by 4 pm.
The annual festival, which will commence from Jagannath Temple, will conclude at Shree Gundicha temple considered as the aunt’s place of the deities.