Puri: Concurring with the end of the holy month of Ramadan, Odisha's pious city Puri is celebrating one of the country's biggest religious festivals on Saturday, the grand Nabakalebara Yatra.
It's the biggest religious congregation in Odisha and celebrations are expected to be extra special this time as this is the century's first Naba-kale-bara Ratha Yatra today.
More than 50 lakh people are expected to throng the holy city to be part of the grand yatra which is held only once in 19 years. The Nabakalebara symbolises the new birth of Lord Jagannath. Devotees will see the Lord's new idol for first time in 19 years.
A priest at Jagannath temple Soumendra Muduli said,"Like we die and take new birth. So do the Lord through this Nabakalebara."
Preparations for the grand event had been underway since the past three years with the Odisha government spending over Rs 3,000 crore on new accommodation, bus terminals, railway station and wider roads.
"It was a big challenge and we planned and worked hard to meet the target" Puri Collector Arvind Agarwal said.
Although there are no specific intelligence inputs of any terrorist threat, safety issues have also been taken care of by deploying more than 10,000 security personnel along with National Security Guard (NSG) commandos and National Disaster Response Force (NDRF) teams.
"We do not have any specific input of any terrorist threat but we are prepared for any eventualities." said a senior police officer.
The Nabakalebara had been marked with controversies recently due to the irregularities of some of the temple sevayats or servitors of the Lord in performing an important Brahmaparivartan ritual in June which evoked huge protests across the state.