Rath Yatra 2018: Lord Jagannath begins his journey to his aunt's home

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The Jagannatha Temples dotted in different parts of the country is celebrating its 141st Ratha Yatra.
The Jagannatha Temples dotted in different parts of the country is celebrating its 141st Ratha Yatra.

New Delhi : The nine-day annual Rath Yatra festival is religiously observed by many Hindus globally. This year, the Rath Yatra falls on July 14 and lakhs of devotees have descended at Puri in Odisha to celebrate the festive occasion. The Jagannatha Temples dotted in different parts of the state is celebrating its 141st Ratha Yatra. On this day Lord Jagannath and his two siblings, Balaram and Subhadra, visit their aunt at the Gundicha Temple around three kilometres away. 

India’s Prime Minister Narendra Modi conveyed his best wishes on Ratha Yatra. "With the blessings of Lord Jagannath, may our country scale new heights of growth. May every Indian be happy and prosperous," the Prime Minister said in his Tweet.

Hindu mythology states that Lord Jagannath is a reincarnation of Lord Vishnu. The holy name is derived from two words 'jagat' and 'nath' which means 'lord of the universe'. The three deities of Lord Jagannath , Balaram and Subhadra are unique and unlike most other deities with human form. The deities are dark and shapeless with large round eyes.

Though there several stories behind the shapeless idol of Lord Jagannath. One of most believed says, when King Subal, who was a devotee of Lord Jagannath wanted a deity of the god made, he ignored the condition laid down by the sculptor and went inside the room, where he was working. The sculptor left leaving the unfinished deities. Locals say till today those unfinished deities are being worshiped at the temple in Puri.

Coming to the festival ground in Puri, special security arrangements have been made for the festival to run smoothly without mess. The railway police have increased security checking at Puri and Bhubaneswar railway stations, 120 CCTV cameras have been installed at sensitive locations and the Coast Guard has stepped up sea patrolling off the coast of Puri. 

NSG commandos and 140 platoons of police force have been deployed all along the route where devotees have lined up to pull the decorative chariot.

Besides celebration in Puri, Rath Yatra is also observed in Gujarat and many parts of eastern India. Abroad, the festival is celebrated in London, New York and a few holy destinations.