Puri (Orissa), June 8 (ANI): Thousands of Hindu devotees and tourists thronged Puri on Sunday to witness the sacred bath ceremony of Hindu God Lord Jagannath, ahead of the world famous Rath Yatra (chariot festival), which begins later this month.
Amid blowing of conches and beating of cymbals, the giant wooden images of three deities-Lord Jagannath, his elder brother Lord Balabhadra and sister Subhadra were taken out of the temple in traditional gear and given bath by the temple priests.
Temple priests performed the ceremonial bath consisting of 108 pitchers of herbal aromatic water on the three idols draped in colourful traditional gear.
Devotees consider it very fortunate to take part in the ceremony.
"I am very fortunate to be part of this sacred ceremony. If you are unfortunate you can't witness this ceremony. I can't explain in words how good I am feeling to be here," said Mukul Sen, a devotee from West Bengal.
Julio Fernandes, a visitor from Germany said he wanted to share his experience with those back home.
"Millions of people come to see this. But for me I want to express this to the West too because this is a very religious event that has particular importance in India," said Fernandes.
People lined the streets and rooftops to watch the ceremony.
Believed to be the worlds biggest religious procession, the annual Rath Yatra involves a sea of devotees, who follow a series of hand-pulled, brightly decorated chariots carrying idols of the deities. The three chariots are pulled by thousands of devotees.
The yatra is a round trip from the main temple to another nearby temple where the idols of the deities rest for seven days before their return to the main temple.
According to Hindu believers, Lord Jagannath is the incarnation of Lord Vishnu, the Preserver, one of the trinity of the Hindu pantheon. The other two are Brahma, the Creator and Shiva, the Destroyer.
The Jagannath temple is about 60 kilometres from Bhubaneswar, the State capital of Orissa. By Sarada Lahangir (ANI)