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Tight security marks Rath Yatra in Ahmedabad
July 01, 2003 15:00 IST
Amid religious fervour and tight security measures, the 126th Rath Yatra began from the Jagannath temple in Jamalpur area of Ahmedabad on Monday morning.
Gujarat Chief Minister Narendra Modi performed the traditional ritual of Pahind by sweeping the path with a golden broom, paving way for the Yatra to begin.
Modi, along with Union Minister Harin Pathak and Gujarat Ministers Ashok Bhatt and Amit Shah, pulled the chariot till the temple entrance, from where it would traverse nearly 24 kms through the walled city and return back in the evening.
The religious ceremonies began at 0400 hours IST with mangla arti performed by the mahants followed by seating of the idols of Lord Jagannath, Subhadra and Baldev in the chariots amidst chanting of Jai Ranchod...Makhan Chor.
A thick security blanket has been thrown in and around the Lord Jagannath temple and in the city with nearly 6000 paramilitary soldiers posted along the yatra route, which passes through some sensitive areas also.
Thousands of people thronged the temple since early morning to have darshan, besides the prasad, which consists of khichdi and is offered during the arti.
Nearly 20,000 kgs of cereal and other fruits would be distributed as prasad to devotees during the procession.
Commenting on the security for the yatra, Gujarat Law Minister Ashok Bhatt told reporters, "Every year there is adequate security cover and there have been times when bullet-proof security was given to idols in the yatra."
"Till prajajan (people), prashasan (administration) and mahajan (business community) are working in tandem, there is no real or perceived need for any security," Bhatt said.
The procession is being led by 16 decorated elephants, followed by 98 trucks accompanied by 30 akhadas displaying their skills and 25 bhajan mandalis singing devotional songs.
Nearly 1200 people, known as khalisis, are there to be the chariot.
For the first time, temple authorities have constituted a 100-member committee of swayamsevaks, who will accompany the yatra and help in 'timely completion' of the procession by the evening.
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