The Jagannath Yatra has covered a distance of 11 km between Chatia to Badaghumari in district Jajpur, making it the longest journey for the chariot. The total distance of 11 km between the starting and ending point was traversed by the chariot in a period of two days, as a sea of devotees pulled the chariot during the ceremonial Rath Yatra. Upendra Ojha, the chief priest of the temple flagged off the Rath Yatra on Saturday afternoon. The Rath or chariot made its way along the 11 km route leading through NH5 as well as village roads, while the devotees chanted the hymns of Lord Jagannath all the way.
On its way, the ceremonial procession made several halts so that the devotees could have the darshan of Lord Jagannath, Balabhadra and Subhadra. According to Upendra Ojha, who heads the managing committee of the temple. “The chariot had earlier not been permitted by the authorities to travel the stretch of 14 kilometers, as the condition of road was very bad. However, 1999, after the village roads were widened, the temple management committee was allowed by the authority take the chariot along the distance on the newly constructed road.”
The temple was thronged by a massive crowd for darshan and the devotees later became a part of the procession, as it started under high security of the police. Police personnel had been deployed all the way along the route of the journey of the Yatra, including the NH 5. “A smooth journey was ensured for the chariots by the members of the managing committee of the temple as well as the villagers, who volunteered to clean the roads along the route. Some incidents have been recorded earlier where a bad state of the roads caused the chariot to get stuck on the way. But this year was different as all the villages have concrete roads now under the Prime Ministers village road project. Consequently, the devotees could pull the chariots smoothly this time”, stated Sachi Samantray, secretary of Ratha Yatra Committee.
The Jagannath temple at Chatia has an empty pedestal in its sanctorum, which is worshipped by the priests of the temple daily, in the hope that the deity would make way here from Puri someday. “The deities have been awaited at the temple by the devotees as well as the priests for centuries. According to the temple tradition, some kind of construction is carried out here daily to prepare for the arrival of the deities”, stated Managobinda Das of Chatia. “Small construction jobs are undertaken at the temple every day, such as repairing of the doors and windows because it is believed that they will be halted only after Lord Jagannath from Puri makes His way here”, reiterated Satyabadi Panda, a temple priest at Chatia. A prediction has been made by Achutananda Das that the Jagannath Temple at Puri would one day submerge into the sea and this theory has been linked with the effects of global warming by environmentalists and scientists.