Dasara festivities begin in Vijayawada

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Vijayawada, Oct 12 (UNI) The nine-day Dasara celebrations at Sri Durga Malleswara Swamivarla Devasthanam atop Indrakeeladri here began today, with 'snapanabhishekam' to the presiding deity.

Andhra Pradesh Chief Minister Y S Rajasekhara Reddy will worship the Goddess tomorrow. State Endowments Minister J Ratnakar Rao will present a silk robe to the presiding deity on October 17, on behalf of the State Government.

According to a Devasthanam official, the devotees would be allowed to have darshan of the Goddess, adorned as 'Swarna Kavachalamkrutha Durga' after the VIPs.

However, a large number of pilgrims, waiting in the queue since early morning, raised slogans against the Devasthanam for not allowing them to have darshan of the Goddess at the scheduled time of 0830 hrs.

The temple would be kept open for darshan from 0300 hrs to 2300 hrs from tomorrow till October 21.

The festival would conclude with 'Teppotsavam', when the deity would be taken on 'Hamsa Vahanam' in river Krishna on the evening of October 21. Over two lakh devotees who took 'Bhavani Deeksha' would relinquish it on October 22 and 23 at the temple, the official added.

The Devasthanam was expecting about 20 lakh devotees during the festival and had requisitioned expert divers at the Durga bathing ghat for the safety of devotees. In view of the huge turnout of devotees, vehicles were banned from plying on the hill.

As many as 30 closed circuit TVs have been installed as a security measure in view of the prevailing general terror alert.

Metal detectors would be used for random check of devotees and sniffer dog squads have been stationed at the temple.

Police have made tight security arrangements at the temple by deploying more than 900 personnel, including Home Guards, round the clock.

UNI

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