Every year Rukuna Rath Yatra of Lord Lingaraj on Ashokasthami and Sri Ram Navami is celebrated with great fanfare by the devotees in the temple city Bhubaneswar. Though originally Rukuna Rath used to roll on Ratha Road of Old Town in Bhubaneswar connecting Lord Lingaraj Temple and Mausima Temple, the Rath Yatra is now gradually getting being celebrated in other parts of the state too. The millennium city Cuttack too witnessed hundreds joining Rukuna Rath Yatra for the first time last year.
In Bhubaneswar after the routine rituals, bronze images of the three deities – Chandrasekhar (the representative of Lord Lingaraj), Rukmini and Basudeva – were brought to the chariot amidst beats of gongs, blowing of conch shells and chant of hymns from Lord Lingaraj temple till it reaches The Mausima Maa Temple. The four-wheeled, 35-ft wooden chariot rolls from the 11th century shrine to Mausima temple as it is pulled by thousands of devotees. As per the local administration, over one lakh devotees joined to witness the divine show. The devotees’ turnout goes up as the mercury falls and the city gets splashed with mild shower. The uniqueness of Rukuna Rath is it never “takes a turn” like the chariots of Lord Jagannath, Lord Balabhadra and Devi Subhadra in Puri. When this chariot returns after a five-day sojourn at Mausima temple, the chariot is drawn from behind.
Similarly thousands of devotees join Sri Ram Navami celebration with great religious fervor across the state. Most Ram temples in the State are decorated and idols of Lord Ram, His consort Sita and Lakshman are richly adorned. In Bhubaneswar, the Ram Temple premises on Janpath getst filled up with devotees since morning. In other parts of the city, public gathering and satsangs marked the day. The day being a holiday, thousands devotees throng the temples throughout the day to worship the deities. As the crowd swells in at the temple towards the evening, police have a tough time in controlling the situation. The temple city Bhubaneswar along with it the major cities and villages are all set to celebrate the much awaited festivals of Lord Shiva and Lord Rama.