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Puri's Rath Yatra today, President to attend religious event attended by lakhs, PM Modi wishes devotees, elaborate security organized


In Odisha, the two-day Lord Jagannath Rath Yatra in Puri to

In Odisha, the two-day Lord Jagannath Rath Yatra in Puri to commence today. Along with lakhs of devotees, President Droupadi Murmu will also attend the annual festival. Even as the Rath Yatra for Lord Jagannath is a one-day event, it is learnt that due to specific celestial arrangements, it will span two days this year, a rarity last seen in 1971. "Greetings on the start of the sacred Rath Yatra. We bow to Mahaprabhu Jagannath and pray that His blessings constantly remain upon us", PM Modi posted on X.

President Droupadi Murmu, who hails from Odisha, will join the annual festival, which will attract lakhs of devotees from the country and abroad. Odisha chief minister Mohan Majhi has declared a two-day public holiday on July 7 and 8 for the Rath Yatra. 

The chariots are positioned in front of Lion's Gate of the Jagannath temple, and it is to depart for the Gundicha temple, where they will remain for a week. Devotees in lakhs will pull the chariots on Sunday afternoon as it happens every year. 

The Rath Yatra is preceded by rituals like ‘Nabajouban Darshan’ and ‘Netra Utsav’, that will take place on Sunday itself. ‘Nabajouban Darshan’ signifies the youthful appearance of the deities, who remain behind closed doors for 15 days during ‘Anasara’ (quarantine period) following ‘Snana Purnima’.

The mythological aspect is that the deities fall ill due to excessive bathing on ‘Snana Purnima’ and thus stay indoors. The priests perform special ritual ‘Netra Utsav’, where the deities' eyeballs are freshly painted. This takes place ahead of ‘Nabajouban Darshan’.

The festival marks the Holy Trinity's journey to their maternal aunt, Goddess Gundicha Devi's Temple, and concludes with their return after eight days. The festival spans from Akshaya Tritiya (in April) and concludes with the Holy Trinity's return to the Shree Mandir premises.

Miniature artist L Eswar Rao,who built a mini chariot for the occasion, says, "...This year, I have made a chariot of 2 inches in connection with the Jagannath Puri Rath Yatra procession. It took me 7 days to build this chariot... I want to extend my wishes to everyone..." Eswar Rao crafted an eco-friendly chariot in connection with the Jagannath Puri Rath Yatra..

Meanwhile, the Odisha police is using Artificial Intelligence (AI) technology on a pilot basis for effective traffic and crowd management during the Rath Yatra this year. It will use AI-powered technology for the first time in drone and CCTV surveillance and traffic control.

Pinak Mishra, SP Puri says, "Today we are celebrating the world-famous Rath Yatra of Lord Sri Jagannath. As we have anticipated, a large number of devotees will flock to Puri to participate in this Rath Yatra. We have made extensive police arrangements. We have divided the police arrangements into several important segments. Arrangements have been made for crowd control and regulation. Special arrangements have been made for matters related to traffic and parking. The President of India will visit Puri. So special arrangements have been made keeping in mind the security of the President of India. Apart from this, many other dignitaries will visit Puri... We are in touch with several agencies and we are working closely with them. We are in coordination with the Coast Guard, Coastal Security, Railway Security..."

Gujarat CM Bhupendra Patel says, "Best wishes to the citizens on the occasion of the Rath Yatra festival. This Rath Yatra of Ahmedabad is considered to be the biggest Rath Yatra after the Rath Yatra of Jagannath Puri. On this holy day, the Lord himself comes out to give darshan to the citizens... All arrangements have been made to ensure that the Rath Yatra is conducted peacefully and safely. May this holy festival bring happiness, peace and prosperity to Gujarat and the entire country..."

Rath Yatra is also organized in a big way in Ahmedabad city of Gujarat. CM Bhupendra Patel performed the 'PahindVidhi' or the symbolic cleaning of the path for chariot of Jagannath for Rath Yatra.

In Gujarat, DCP Komal Vyas informed, "Ahmedabad Smart City cameras have already been installed in the city for a long time, and have been adjusted and zoomed to focus on the Rath yatra... When a large crowd gathers at a place and uses their mobile networks, the connectivity is affected. To have an unobstructed work of the police, we make use of our VHF sets... We are also making use of tethered helium balloons. We have installed a camera on the helium balloon to get a birds-eye view of the procession... We have installed GPS in all police vehicles... In addition to the main Rath Yatra of Ahmedabad, there are 7 more Rath Yatras planned in the city... In addition to the Rath yatra, we have also managed and ensured smooth conduct of 4 different types of recruitment exams being held in the state... 24000 personnel have been recruited to ensure smooth conduct of the Rath Yatra...".