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Rukuna Rath rolls in Old town, Bhubaneswar

Bhubaneswar: After two years the chariot of Lord Lingaraj rolled in Ekamrakhetra on Saturday with public participation. Thousands of devotees thronged Old Town to witness the Rukuna Rath Yatra of Lingaraj Temple after the COVID pandemic.

It was cancelled in 2020 due to COVID-19 outbreak while only servitors were allowed to pull the chariot in 2021.

Amidst the blowing of conches, and chanting of religious hymns, devotees pulled the chariot of the three deities.

The pulling of the Rukuna Chariot began at 4 pm and stopped midway at Tinimundia Chhack after sunset. It will resume on Sunday.

The biggest festival of the temple city is celebrated on the Ashokastami or Basanti Durga Puja which takes place in the month of Chaitra and lasts for five days. During the festival, the bronze idols of three deities, Chandrashekhar- the representative of Lord Lingaraja, Rukumani, and Ananta Basudev are brought out of Lingaraj temple with ceremonial pahandi (a special movement of the deities) to ascend the chariot.

The chariot is drawn to the Rameswara temple and remains there for four days in Gundicha Ghar. On the fifth day, the three deities begin their return journey.

It is believed that during their stay at Mausima temple (Gundicha Ghar), goddess Parvati visits the three deities on the third day and complains about not taking her in the Chariot.

One of the interesting aspects of the Rukuna Rath Yatra is that while returning, the chariot is drawn towards the Lingaraj temple in a backward motion, without making any turn. Only the altar of the deities is changed.

Sanjukta Mohapatra, a 60-year-old devotee from a village near Puri, visited Old Town to witness the Rath Yatra. With tears in her eyes and folded hands, she prayed to the Holy Trinity. “I have been witnessing the Rukuna Rath Yatra for the past 37 years. However, due to the Covid-19 pandemic rath couldn’t roll in the Ekamrakhetra. I am happy this the deities came out of the temple to bless everyone.”

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