Yatra held peacefully in Puri, Shankaracharya stays away

Over ten lakh devotees witnessed the world famous annual Rath Yatra of Lord Jagannath held here on Sunday with fanfare, religious fervour and enthusiasm amid tight security as the practice of people climbing the chariots was stopped in a major reform initiative.However, Puri Shankaracharya Swami Nischalananda Saraswati did not visit the chariots before they were pulled accusing the Odisha government of interfering in religious matters by asking him to ascend the raths (chariots) alone without his disciples. ‘The state government has dared to dictate terms to the Shankaracharya of Puri. I will not visit the chariots before they are pulled for Rath Yatra,’ Saraswati had told reporters at the Govardhan Peeth in Puri on Saturday.

Devotees from across the country and abroad descended on the pilgrim town of Puri in Odisha for a glimpse of the presiding deities of the 12th century shrine of Sri Jagannath and mingled with the sea of humanity during the annual festival of chariots. ‘The festival was held peacefully in a smooth manner. There was no untoward incident as elaborate security measures were taken,’ a senior police officer said. A tight security net comprising around 7,000 police personnel was in place as a precautionary measure, he said adding apart from force deployment, CCTV and spy cameras had been installed.
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