Puri: The nine-day-long 'Rath Yatra' or 'Chariot Festival' came to an end with the deities Lord Jagannath, Lord Balabhadra and Devi Subhadra returning to their abode Srimandir this evening.
The 'Bahuda Yatra' or 'Return Journey' was performed with traditional gaiety and fervour. The devotees, who came from various parts of the country braved the scorching heat and humid conditions to get a glimpse of the deities.
'Bahuda Yatra' rituals finished ahead of the schedule and the three Raths reached the Sri Mandir main gate in time to facilitate the sunavesh (adorning the three Lords with their golden jewellery) which falls on the Ekadashi, this time partially covering both Monday and Tuesday. All the rituals of the deities at the Gundicha Temple were hastened up to match the sunavesh. According to the temple astrologer, since one day had lapsed the programmes had to be a bit advanced.
Over six lakh devotees participated in the return car festival ‘Bahuda Yatra’ in traditional style and gaiety and pulled the chariots along the 3-km-long grand road (Badadanda) to the main temple before sunset. The Lords were returning to main temple after their nine-day sojourn in the Gundicha temple.
Early in the morning temple, priests performed Mangal aarati followed by Surya and Dwarpal pooja. The deities were offered Gopal bhog before the journey. The Daita servitors took about eight hours in the night to fashion the deities with a set of special armours ‘Chhenapatta’ to bear the stress of the pahandi.
At about 9.45 am the Daita servitors took out the holy triad Lord Balabhadra, Devi Subhadra and Lord of the universe Jagannath in ceremonial pahandi procession through Nakachanadwar (exit gate of the Gundicha Temple) to their respective chariots parked outside for the return journey. The pahandi of the deities was over by 12.45 pm and the chherapahanra by the Gajapati Raja Dibyasingh Dev was over by 1.45 pm.
The devotees were allowed to pull the chariots along the Badadanda by 2.10 pm. The first chariot Taladhwaj of Lord Balabhadra rolled on followed by Darpadalan of Devi Subhadra. Jagannath came mounted on the Nandighosh behind the two at about 3 pm. Before evening all three chariots reached the Lions Gate of the main temple. On the way, the deities had a taste of the Podapitha baked by their Mausima. The ceremonial Laxminarayan Vetta (meeting of Lord Jagannath with his consort Mahalaxmi) was also held.