The world-renowned Jagannath Rath Yatra starts today in Puri. The Rath Yatra marks the annual journey of the three deities from the 12th century Jagannath temple in the chariots to the temple of Devi Gundicha, their aunt.
Considered as one of the most auspicious festivals all around the world, Rath Yatra attracts lakhs and lakhs of visitors to the holy city of Puri in order to witness Lord Jagannath, Lord Balabhadra and Devi Subhadra riding three giant wooden chariots which are pulled by devotees as they travel to Gundicha temple. The festival lasts for 9 days and ends with Bahuda Yatra or the return journey of the three to their temple. The chariots of Lord Jagannath, Balabhadra and Subhadra are respectively known as Nandighosh, Taladhwaja and Padmadhwaja.
The chariots are pulled by devotees belonging to all religions and races. The grand road resonates with the sounds of ghanta (cymbals), kahali (type of flute), mahuri (a double reeded instrument), pakhauja (a variant of mridangam), mardal (similar to pakhawaj) and bells when the procession begins.