Rath Yatra completes its first phase today; 6 killed in Puri

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Puri/New Delhi, Jul 4 (UNI) At least six people were killed and 50 injured in a stampede during the 131st annual Jagannath Rath Yatra in Puri today.

Barring this, the Yatra rolled off peacefully across the country.

Six people were killed, including three women, and 50 were injured ,two of them critically, when the deity of Devi Subhadra was taken out from the Jagannath temple to the chariot in the city.

The incident occurred due to heavy rush of pilgrims who broke the barricade. However, Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik has announced an exgratia of Rs one lakh to the next of kin of the deceased and ordered a high level inquiry by the member Board of Revenue.

A small report of stampede was also recieved from Jhabua town of Madhya Pradesh, following rumours of stone pelting. However no casualty has been reported.

Meanwhile, the festival of chariot was celebrated with great fervour and ceremony in other states of the country.

In Ahmedabad, amid the chanting of ''Jai Ranchhod, Makhan Chor,'' the Rath Yatra of Lord Jagannath peacefully concluded its first phase of journey with safe arrival in Masalu (maternal uncle's house) in Saraspur area of the walled city this afternoon.

The only halt the procession witnessed was for an hour when a bolt of one of the wheels of the chariot of sister Shubhadra was worn-out.

Hundreds of people in Manipur witnessed and pulled the grand chariot at the Shri Shri Govindajee temple and the ISKCON temple, where devotees offered fruits, flowers and prayers to the Lord, his brother Balabhadra and sister Subhadra.

Many Rath Yatra processions were taken out from Jagannath temples in Delhi also to celebrate Lord Jagannath's annual sojourn to His aunt Gundicha's place.

In Varanasi,however, Uttar Pradesh authorities chose to remain extra vigilant in wake of recent terrorist attacks in the city.

Police performed special drill and examined the entire area with bomb detectors before the Rath Yatra began.

Nevertheless, the much awaited three-day fair pulled a large gathering in Varanasi, of which lakhs were from the nearby districts itself.

According to legend, Lord Jagannath along with his siblings, visits his Aunt Gundicha for nine days and during this time, the non-Hindu servitors are allowed to serve Him. After that the deities return to their original abode through 'Return Car festival'.

The ''Yatra'' is known by varied names like ''Gundicha Jatra'', ''Ghosa Jatra'', ''Navadina Jatra'' and ''Dasavatara Jatra''.

UNI Team GT AS1832

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