| Pilgrims offer prayers on the banks of the Falgu in Gaya on Sunday. Picture by Suman |
More than 20,000 pilgrims offered prayers at Deo Ghat on the banks of the Falgu towards the east of Vishnupad Temple on Sunday, the second day of Pitripaksh Mela.
The administration claimed to have made elaborate arrangements for the third day of the 17-day mela on Monday for the ritual at Pretshila, around 12km north-west of Gaya town.
Entry of four-wheelers has been banned in the mela area to ensure that pilgrims do not suffer because of traffic snarls. Only vehicles of the district administration officials or those with valid passes issued by the district administration are allowed entry in the mela area.
Suresh Narayan, a social activist who had conducted a survey in the last week of August and highlighted the problems in the report he submitted to the district administration, said the defunct high-mast lights near Shankaracharya Park towards south of Vishnupad Temple have been repaired. “However, the truant power supply has not only exposed the administration’s tall claims but is also causing hardship to the pilgrims,” Narayan said.
According to Gaya senior superintendent of police (SSP) Vinay Kumar, elaborate security arrangements have been made for the pilgrims. “Closed-circuit television cameras, mounted police, bomb disposal squad and nearly 1,500 policemen, including female personnel, have been deployed at the mela area, spread between Pretshila and Bodhgaya, 13km south of Gaya town. Plainclothes policemen have also been deployed,” the SSP said.
A 175-member delegation from 30 countries arrived in Bodhgaya on Sunday evening after participating in the International Mahabodhi Conclave at Sarnath near Varanasi. Later, they visited Mahabodhi Mahavihara and offered prayers in the sanctum sanctorum of Lord Buddha and also under the Bodhi tree.
Tourism minister Sunil Kumar “Pintu” accompanied the delegates from Sarnath to Bodhgaya. The delegates enjoyed a cultural programme of Bihar Gaurav Gaan, Kathak performance and a play on Buddha’s life organised on the Kalchakra ground in Bodhgaya.