The stream of devotees from Coastal Andhra has almost dried up at Basar, the famous abode of Goddess Gnana Saraswati in Adilabad district, due to the continuing agitation for keeping the State unified. The sacred month of Shravan, which coincided with the intensification of protests in Seemandhra, has recorded an estimated decrease by 20 to 30 per cent in the number of devotees, which is known to be the size of devotees arriving directly from Coastal Andhra and Rayalaseema districts.

During Shravan, the month of abstinence, Basar gets about 2,000 devotees on normal days and about 5,000 on Sundays and Fridays. These days are considered auspicious for ‘aksharabhyasam’ or initiation of children into the world of alphabets.

“We do not have exact figures, but the absence of devotees from Andhra is clearly felt here. It is however, understandable as transportation in the Seemandhra districts has been affected badly due to the agitation,” says Ganga Srinivas, assistant executive officer of the Gnana Saraswati temple.

Business down by 50 p.c.

Anthagiri Madhav, who runs a shop specialising in puja and ‘aksharabhyasam’ material in front of the temple, says the quantum of business in the month of Shravan has gone down by almost 50 per cent.

“Even Fridays and Sundays, when people come to Basar in good numbers for ‘aksharabhyasam’, have not attracted the usual number of devotees, thanks to the protests,” he reveals.

Tonduru Poshetti, a boatman at the bathing ghats of Godavari at Basar, also reports a decrease in business by about 50 per cent. “Most of the devotees you are seeing on the ghat have come from Hyderabad and Maharashtra,” he points out. Meanwhile, Basar is gearing up for an anticipated rush of devotees once the unified Andhra agitation comes to an end, expected to be sooner than later.

“We are constructing a new ‘aksharabhyasam’ hall, a three floor dormitory and a new queue complex at a cost of Rs. 12 crore for the benefit of devotees,” Mr. Srinivas reveals.