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Puri: Woman killed in stampede during rath yatra

Last updated on: July 13, 2010 16:01 IST

A woman was killed and three others were on Tuesday injured in a stampede during pulling of Ratha Yatra chariots from the Sri Jagannath temple in Puri, Orissa, in which hundreds of thousand people took part.

The 65-year-old woman, identified as Bijaylaxmi Mohanty of Markendeswar Sahi area in Puri, and three others fell down among the throng of devotees as the chariots were being pulled, Chief District Medical Officer, Puri, Narahari Maharana said.

They were taken to a hospital where doctors declared the woman brought dead. The condition of three others was stated to be stable, Maharana said.

The incident took place near Gajapati king's palace, about one kilometer from the 12th century temple.

Mohanty fell down as the 'Taladwaja', the chariot of Lord Balabhadra, was being pulled, police said. 

Millions of devotees from across the country and abroad thronged this pilgrim town of Puri onn Tuedsay when Lord Jagannath, the presiding deity of the 12th century temple in the city, set off on his annual sojourn to his aunt's house accompanied by elder brother Lord Balabhadra and sister Devi Subhadra on three majestic wooden chariots.

Special rituals like Mangla arati and Mailam were held before the deities proceeded out of the sanctum sanctorum of the temple after descending from the Ratna Sinhasana, the bejeweled throne.

The three deities were taken down the 22 steps of the temple known as 'baisi pahacha' through the Lion's gate in an elaborate royal ritual called 'Pahandi' to the beating of gongs as devotees and sevayats jostled each other to have a closer look and to touch them.

Devotees poured into this seaside town since early morning to watch the ceremonial pulling of the huge chariots of the three deities on the 'Bada Danda', as the Grand Avenue is known, with security personnel deployed in strength keeping a watchful eye.

The temple was thrown open to public on July 11 for the 'Naba Jaubana Darshan' of the deities who remained confined to the 'Anasara Pindi' or recovery chamber following a ritual bath on 'snana purnima' on June 26.

Among VIPs who turned out to watch the Rathayatra were Orissa Governor M C Bhandare and Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik. Meanwhile, volunteers sprayed jets of water on the vast multitude to given them relief from the heat.

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