Lord Lingaraj's Annual Sojourn Starts




Unfazed by a blazing sun, a sea of humanity tugged the chariot of Lord Lingaraj on Rukuna Rath Yatra at Bhubaneswar, the capital city of Odisha, about 60 kilometres from Puri, on Tuesday.

The chariot pulling exercise resumed on Wednesday as it was stopped midway on Tuesday evening. After the routine rituals, bronze images of three deities—Chandrasekhar (the representative of Lord Lingaraj), Rukmini and Basudeva—were brought to the chariot from Lingaraj temple amid boisterous procession on Tuesday afternoon.

Unlike Puri Jagannatha Rath Yatra that is being celebrated in June or July every year, the annual Rath Yatra of Lord Lingaraj is observed on the august occasion of Ashokastami, in March or April. While three chariots are used in Puri, the Lingaraj temple Deities traverse in a single four-wheeled wooden chariot to Mausima temple.

"The chariot pulling exercise started around 5:15 pm. The chariot was halted at Badheibanka Chhak in the evening," informed a priest. The return car festival will be observed on April 8.

Rukuna Rath is also called 'analeuta' chariot (the chariot that does not take a turn during the return car festival). Going by the convention, the Rukuna chariot is pulled from the backside without taking a turn on the return. The sitting altar of the Deities is changed on the day of homecoming festival.

Over 30 platoons of police forces were deployed for the smooth conduct of the festival. "The festival was incident-free," said Commissioner of Police Y. B. Khurania.