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Lord of the world comes to town

Lord of the world comes to town

Author: TNN
Publication: The Times of India
Date: July 3, 2011
URL: http://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/city/ahmedabad/Lord-of-the-world-comes-to-town/articleshow/9092061.cms

A sea of humanity greeted the Lords' chariots on the city streets on Sunday. The entire city seemed to have been painted in pink and khaki as devotees thronged the traditional rath yatra route in large numbers. City police officials heaved a huge sigh of relief as the mega event concluded without any major incident.

The event started off with the ritual sweeping ('Pahind') of the yatra route by chief minister Narendra Modi. Modi created a record of sorts on Sunday as he performed the ritual for tenth consecutive time, the most number of times by any chief minister. Modi's security arrangement, however, resulted in a clash between temple authorities and several police officials before the ritual.

Hundreds of devotees had made a beeline to the temple to participate in morning prayers and witness the Pahind ritual. As it was a Sunday, the number of devotees was more than double the average, said officials.

"The chariots were delayed by two hours after they were pulled out by Modi and other dignitaries," said a senior city police official. "The chariots started rolling out finally just before 9 am and reached Danapith by 10 am. In line with tradition, senior Ahmedabad Municipal Corporation officials, including mayor Asit Vora and municipal commissioner I P Gautam, greeted Mahant Dilipdas and temple administrators."

Mahant Dilipdas, the first Mahant from the city to preside over the yatra, got a roaring welcome in Raipur, his home turf. The devotees standing for hours for one glimpse of the Lord on the city roads were rewarded with tons of prasad distributed by 98 trucks and floats. Devotees received mangoes, blueberries, pomegranate, cucumber, sprouted mung and chickpeas.

The yatra's 1.5 km long train consisted of 18 elephants, 98 trucks, 30 akhada teams and 15 bhajan mandalis. The procession travelled across 18 kilometres.

"While the morning session saw thousands of devotees, it was less than the traditional rush. It helped us make up for the delay caused at the start and we were on track by the time the chariots reached Saraspur," said a senior IPS officer. "However, in the afternoon, we encountered huge crowds at various spots. We had to work hard to clear the path and keep devotees in check."

As always, Dariapur and Shahpur drew heavy police deployment. People from both communities enjoyed the procession and joined in the festivities. "We had given video cameras to the police constables and had moving cameras on five vehicles that kept us updated on the proceedings," said another senior IPS officer. "We monitored the entire route through global positioning system at the control room set up at Circuit House in Shahibaug."

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