A file picture of security forces controlling a surge of devotees in Deoghar
Dumka, Aug. 21: Around 26 lakh kanwariyas visited Baidyanath Dham in Deoghar during Shravan this year, a jump of around five lakh in comparison to the crowd count in 2012.
The holy month ended today with Shravani Purnima (full moon).
According to a communiqué issued by district public relations department, as many as 24.5 lakh devotees offered puja at the temple till August 19.
The dham also received record donations of Rs 3.5 crore. The amount includes Rs 1.58 crore collected by selling shighra darshanam coupons at the rate of Rs 500 each.
This year’s Shravani Mela was significant for other reasons too.
The Baidyanath Dham management board introduced the twin systems of arghya and biometric timeslot to manage the crowd effectively.
The system of biometric entry was a more elaborate one, while the arghya system was put in place to enable pilgrims to pour gangajal on the shiva lingam without entering the crowded sanctum sanctorum. A gold-plated brass vessel was kept outside the main temple where the holy water could be poured.
The timeslot system was, however, discontinued after chief minister Hemant Soren issued orders on July 26.
The arghya system, on the other hand, continued amid protests by local priests.
Durlabh Mishra, member of local priest outfit Panda Dharma Rakshini Sabha, said the arghya system did not go down well with the religious sentiments of pilgrims, who believe in the age-old practice of sparsh puja (touching the shiva lingam).
The state government also launched Akash Vandana from motor glider to boost religious tourism.
Again, the introduction of air service between Ranchi and Deoghar was also a first. But this experiment failed too as the flight had to be discontinued from August 7 after a two-seater motor glider met with an accident during a test flight at Deoghar airport.