Kolkata, July 10 (IANS) West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee inaugurated the annual Rath Yatra amid chants of "Hare Krishna" here Wednesday.
Thousands of devotees pulled the splendidly decorated chariots of Lord Jagannath, his brother Balaram and sister Subhadra brought out by the International Society for Krishna Consciousness (ISKCON).
Themed on the Vedic temple Chandrodaya Mandir, under construction in West Bengal's Mayapur town in Nadia district, about 135 km from here, the three chariots carrying the deities were pulled from Park Circus Maidan of south Kolkata to the Brigade Parade Ground in the centre of the city.
Banerjee, who took part in the temple rituals, distributed prasadam (offering to the deity) before lending a hand in pulling the chariots to start the journey of the three deities.
The devotees sang and danced all the way through to the rhythmic beats of cymbals and drums, as the chariots made their way through the throng.
The festival marks the annual journey of the three deities to their aunt's residence.
The chariots would be kept at the Brigade Parade Ground for the next seven days before making the return journey or Ulta Rath, July 18, marking the end of the festival.
A fair has been organised at the Brigade Parade ground where devotees can participate in various cultural programmes.
Over 10,000 pilgrims attended the Rath Yatra festival at Mahesh in Hooghly district. A large number of devotees have also gathered at Mayapur.
The festival is being celebrated in various parts of Kolkata, including Moulali and Rashbehari areas of the city.
Security has been beefed up in the city to prevent any untoward incident during the nine-day celebrations.