The mammoth wooden chariot started inching ahead with a creaky noise when hundreds of devotees pulled it by holding the two huge ropes tied to its front.
As part of the ongoing brahmotsavams at Sri Kodandarama temple, ‘Rathotsavam’ was observed on Friday, when the deities of Lord Rama, Sita and Lakshmana were placed on the chariot and dragged through the four ‘Mada’ streets encircling the temple. The flower-bedecked chariot was tastefully decorated for the grand occasion falling on the penultimate day of the nine-day event. Joint Executive Officer Pola Bhaskar, Chief Vigilance and Security Officer G. Srinivasa Rao, Deputy EO Harindranath, Superintending Engineer Ramachandra Reddy and others led the procession, while the engineering staff took part. In the evening, ‘Aswa Vahana Seva’ was performed, when the deity of Lord Rama was carried on horseback, which stood as a symbol of his valour.
For the first time ever, the ‘Srivari Seva’ volunteers offered service at the temple on Friday. The ‘Srivari Seva’ scheme was launched in the year 2000 with a noble intention of providing the visiting devotees the option of serving the fellow pilgrims. As on date, a whopping 4.6 lakh devotees have enrolled themselves as ‘Srivari Sevaks’ and rendered voluntary service not only at Tirumala temple, but also in other areas in the last fourteen years.
It was the idea of the Executive Officer M.G. Gopal to replicate the successful concept to other local temples, which came into force on February 17. Since then, the services of the devotees willing to volunteer were being used at Tiruchanur, Srinivasa Mangapuram, Kapila Theertham and Sri Govindaraja temples, besides in ‘Anna Prasadam’ (food distribution) counters.
At present, 150 volunteers have been deployed for crowd management during the present brahmotsavams in the temple.