| (From left) District magistrate Bandana Preyashi, urban development and housing minister Prem Kumar and food and consumer protection minister Shyam Rajak at the inauguration the Pitrapaksh Mela in Gaya on Saturday. Picture by Suman |
Gaya, Sept. 29: The inauguration of the Pitripaksh Mela at Vishnupad temple was marred by protests by those in charge of arrangement of the 17-day festival that began here today.
Hundreds of devotees made a beeline to offer prayers for the salvation of their ancestors’ souls even as members of the Gaya district board and Gaya Municipal Corporation councillors staged a noisy sit-in alleging that they had been ignored by the administration at the inaugural function.
Mayor Vibha Devi, deputy mayor Mohan Shrivastava, board president Neema Kumari and board vice-president Sheetal Yadav said despite being the first citizen of the municipal corporation, “the mayor was ignored and her name did not figure in the invitation card”.
Sources said the mayor and the board president were not invited on the stage.
“The administration expects proper arrangements during the mela. However, they do not take notice of our grievances,” said the mayor.
Food and consumer protection minister and minister and in-charge of Gaya district Shyam Rajak inaugurated the festival amid chants of shlokas by Swami Raghwacharya. Urban development minister Prem Kumar presided over the function. Last year, around nine lakh pilgrims from across the country had visited Gaya to offer pinddaan.
Like previous years, the demand to declare Pitripaksh mela a national fair was raised by litterateur Gowardhan Prasad Saday. A documentary film CD on temples and other religious heritage in and around Gaya and a book on the town’s history were released.