While Puri hosted over 10 lakh devotees in the ratha yatra or Shri Gundicha yatra, it is expected that over 50 lakh devotees will participate during the next eight days till July 5, when the Bahuda yatra or the return journey of the Lord takes place, informed a temple administrator from Puri.
Reports from various towns and villages in Orissa suggested an ever-growing enthusiasm among Muslims, taking part in the celebrations, which indicate the strength and influence of the Jagannath cult in centuries-old harmonious living. A large number of foreigners including ISKCON followers also took part in the yatra in Puri.
In Delhi, the rath yatra was taken out in six different areas. The largest show was at the Jagannath temple of Shree Neelachala Seva Sangh in Hauz Khas village in South Delhi, where over one-and-a-half lakh devotees took part in the procession.
In Baripada, district headquarters of Mayurbhanj, the 415-year-old ratha yatra witnessed thousands of tribal devotees from neighbouring states like Jharkhand and West Bengal in their colourful best. The chariot of Goddess Subhadra was pulled only by women devotees, a three-decade-old practice, which is catching on in other places too.