Amid the Covid-19 restrictions Rath Yatra 2021 began on Monday at the famous Lord Jagannath temple in Puri, Odisha. Lord Jagannath and his siblings were placed in their chariots after performing 'pahandi' rituals. With chants of "Hari Bol" and "Jai Jagannath" the three deities -- Lord Jagannath, Lord Balabhadra and Devi Subhadra -- came down from the 'Ratna Simhasan' and boarded the chariots for the annual sojourn.
The 'Pahandi Bije' was started with Lord Balabhadra, followed by Devi Subhadra and Lord Jagannath. Servitors escorted the idols of the deities from 'Ratna Simhasan' to their chariots -- Taladhwaja, Darpadalana and Nandighosa -- in a ceremonial procession. The 'Pahandi Bije' ritual was completed before schedule.
Gajapati Maharaja Dibyasingha performed 'Chhera pahara', the ceremony in which he sweeps all chariots, one after another. The chariot pulling also began with Lord Balabhadra's Taladhwaja.
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In view of the Covid-19 restrictions, the annual festival was conducted without the participation of devotees.
Millions of devotees in Odisha and across the world, witnessed the ceremony on their TV sets, mobile phones and computers during the live telecast and streaming of the rituals and procession.
Tight security arrangements have been put in place for the smooth completion of the Rath Yatra. Section 144 was imposed on the entire stretch of the Grand Road and a curfew-like situation prevailed in the pilgrim town. All entry points to Bada Danda and roads leading to Puri were sealed.