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Mahiyar Rohinton Patel, Pune 

The chariots of the trinity of the Jagannath Yatra prepare to be pulled on its journey

2 people have been killed and 130 have been injured in this year’s Jagannath Rath Yatra. The two reported casualties have taken place in different incidents. The first one took place on July 7th when a resident identified to be from the district of Balangir suffocated and died in a stampede. The other casualty was a devotee who was caught under the wheels of a chariot.

The Chief minister of Odisha Charan Majhi has announced an ex gratia payout of 4 lakh rupees.

Last year 3 people were killed and 8 seriously injured in different incidents on the Yatra. The chariot pulling in 2 other districts landed people in the hospital. 2 people were electrocuted to death in the Keonjhar district of Odisha.

The Jagannath Yatra is one of the largest religious occasions in the world with around 15 lakh people descending upon the coastal town of Odisha for the Yatra. This year the Yatra is seeing an exceptional turnout as for the first time since 1971 the Yatra will be held over 2 days.

This is also the first time a sitting president has attended the proceedings of the Jagannath Yatra as President Draupadi Murmu. The president who hails from the state of Odisha and who has served a term as a member of the state legislative assembly performed a parikrama around the three chariots of the yatra on Sunday.

The 12th-century tradition begins with the three 45-foot wooden chariots of the yatra being pulled on a 2.5 km stretch from the Jagannath temple to the Gundicha temple.

The ritual of the chariot pulling started around 5:20 AM on the 7th. The ritual began only after Puri Shankaracharya Swami Nischalanda visited the chariots of Lord Balabhadra and Devi Subhadra along with the titular king of Puri.

The president was not alone among political leaders who came to pay obeisance to lord Jagannath as the president was joined by Odisha Governor Raghubar Das, Chief Minister Mohan Majhi, deputy chief ministers KV Singh Deo and Parvati Parida as well as the former chief minister Naveen Patnaik.

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