Baripada: Braving bad weather, thousands of women devotees pulled Devi Subhadra’s chariot ‘Darpa Dalan’ with devotion and piety in Baripada where Rath Yatra is celebrated a day after the Puri festival.

The unique scene is one to behold when women cutting across the ages took part in the mega spiritual extravaganza in the north Odisha town on Sunday. Not only the local women, but also devotees from neighbouring Jharkhand, West Bengal also witnessed the religious fair and offered obeisance to the deities in Baripada temple, popularly known as the second Srikhetra of Odisha.

The unique tradition has been practicing since 1975. While both men and women pull the chariots of Lord Jagannath and Lord Balabhadra, it’s only women who are allowed to pull the chariot of Goddess Subhadra here.

They believe that all the sins could be wiped out after pulling chariot of the Goddess.

The women pull the chariot of Devi Subhadra every year symbolising the empowerment of fair sex.

“Women from across the globe have reached the pinnacle of success in every sphere. Taking part in the Baripada car festival is an instance of women empowerment”, said a woman devotee.

Small girls were also seen participating the chariot pulling event in Baripada this year. The district administration was also very strict on the oldest tradition that men cannot pull the chariot of Devi Subhadra.  Girl students of different educational institutions also participated in the car festival.

Devi Subhadra’s chariot stopped mid-way and pulling of the same resumed today.

The unique ritual is famous across the world

Sources said a former Collector of Mayurbhanj district had mooted this practice to mark International Women’s Year celebration back in 1975. Eminent women leaders and activists had extended support to the unique plan and come forward to begin the tradition.