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Temple trip first, zoo next

Devotees throng Ganesh Mandir on Tuesday. Picture by UB Photos

Jan. 1: Most people today chose to welcome 2013 by visiting temples and seeking god’s blessings for a prosperous year.

All temples, big and small, received a steady flow of devotees throughout the day. The Assam State Zoo was another popular destination today where visitors celebrated the New Year.

Since early morning, devotees were seen setting out for the temples with flowers, incense sticks, earthen lamps and edibles.

The management of several temples seemed prepared to receive a large number of devotees on this auspicious occasion as has been the tradition always on the first day of the year.

In some temples, devotees were seen providing food to the poor.

“Today being the first day of the year, I thought of visiting the Nepali Mandir along with my family to offer prayers. It is always nice to begin a new phase of our lives with god’s blessings. I will be spending the evening with some family friends,” Sunanda Pradhan, a homemaker, said.

“I visited Kamakhya temple with my close friends on the first morning of the New Year and prayed for a peaceful and prosperous year for all. The day passed off on a happy note and I hope as the year unfolds it brings more happiness in the lives of all people,” said Seema Deka, a young professional.

The occasion also provided vendors a chance to earn a few bucks more by selling items used for religious rituals. In fact, small stalls selling garlands, milk and thalis could be visible in front of most of the temples.

“I have been selling puja thalis, earthen lamps and milk to be poured on Shiva by devotees since morning. Many devotees are coming to the Shiva temple and more will come in the evening,” Sunita Singh, a 12-year-old girl at Christian Basti, said.

“Close to 20,000 devotees visited the Kamakhya temple to offer prayers before the deity today. We also celebrated Pahan Biya, the very auspicious occasion of Maa Kamakhya’s wedding ceremony yesterday and we conveyed our baidik sambashan (best wishes) to all devotees on this occasion,” said Nabakanta Sarma, secretary of the Kamakhya Debuttar Board.

According to sources at the zoo, a total of 22,258 visitors visited the zoo today.

The zoo received about 26,000 visitors last year. The zoo earned a revenue of Rs 216,745 and collected an amount of Rs 25,000 to Rs 26,000 from parking of vehicles.

“We visited Sukreswar temple today and offered a xorai before the deity. Then I decided to take my kids to the zoo, but it was so packed with people that they could not move around. Anyway they enjoyed the day,” said Anupam Saikia.