The Holy Trinity of Lord Jagannath, Lord Balabhadra and Devi Subhadra returned to Shri Jagannath Mandir after spending a gleeful 9 days at their aunt’s house (Gundicha Mandir). Abiding by the strict guidelines issued by the state govt., only those sevayats who tested negative for COVID-19 were allowed to pull the chariots. No devotee was allowed in the vicinity.
After the Mangal aarti at around 4 am, the deities were brought to their respective chariots in a processional ceremony called ‘pahandi’. It was then followed by ‘chhera pahanhra’ (sweeping ritual) by the king of Puri, Maharaj Gajapati Dibyasingha Deb.
Thirty-five minutes prior to the scheduled time, Lord Balabhadra’s Taladwaja chariot started off first around 11.25 am, followed by Devi Subhadra’s Debadalan chariot. Nandighosh chariot carrying Lord Jagannath was the last to reach Shri Mandir.
On the way back, the siblings halted at the Mausima Mandir to have a taste of the ‘Poda Pitha’, a traditional dish made of jaggery, milk, wheat flour, cardamom, ghee, and cloves. History has it that the halt and the offering of the dish is an expression of gratitude of Lord Jagannath to Mausima who saved the servitors of the three chariots while facing hardship in crossing the Malini river, that once flowed between the Shri Mandir and the Gundicha temple.
After reaching the Shri Mandir, the chariots were parked in the Singhadwara where further rituals will be taking place over the next couple of days. These rituals include Suna Besha and Adhara Pana followed by Niladree Bije that will mark the official end to the festival.
The local administration has declared a curfew in the district till 10 pm tomorrow to make sure Bahuda Yatra is smoothly conducted. Entry points to the Shri Mandir have been sealed.