The nine-day annual festival of Jagannath Rath Yatra begins today (14 July) between multi-layered security cover. More than 8,000 police staff along with ODRAF, Rapid Action Force (RAF) and the anti-bomb squad have been deployed in Puri, Odisha for the security of the devotees and tourists. More than 10 lakh devotees from the country and abroad are expected to witness this chariot festival.

On this occasion of the annual Rath Yatra, the Prime Minister of India, Narendra Modi took to Twitter and extended his warm greetings to the people. Sharing a video of the three presiding deities (Lord Jagannath, Lord Balabhadra, and their sister Subhadra), PM Modi said,”With the blessings of Lord Jagannath, may our country scale new heights of growth. May every Indian be happy and prosperous.”

Following this, the Prime Minister has sent few traditional offerings to the Jagannath temple. While talking to the chief priest of the temple about the same, Dilipdasjee Maharaj said the PM has kept his commitment and sent sprouted Moong, Jamun, mangoes and pomegranates which are offered to Lord Jagannath.

Meanwhile, Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) president, Amit Shah is expected to visit Gujarat for the same. He might attend the ‘mangal aarti’ at the Jagannath Temple before addressing the Youth Parliament in a private university, Gandhinagar.

The annual festival rituals began today at 6 am and at around 9.30 am the idols of Lord Jagannath, Goddess Subhadra and Lord Balabhadra were shifted to the chariots (rath). The journey of the rath (chariots) began from the 400-year-old Jagannath temple in Jamalpur and passed through Khamasa, Raipur, Kalupur, Prem Darwaza, Dariapur, Delhi Chakla, and Shahpur.