The nine-day annual Brahmotsavam of Lord Venkateswara which concluded at Tirumala on a grand note on Sunday evoked mixed response from the devout.
The accolades received from the pilgrim fraternity for the flawless arrangements which the Tirumala Tirupati Devasthanams (TTD) had made for the conduct of the mega fete were also laced with edging criticism.
The nine-day festival commenced when the State was in the thick of turmoil with agitations and demonstrations being the order of the day besides APSRTC buses going off the road. Worsening the situation, the initial two days of the festival were marked by a total bandh observed by the Seemandhra protagonists denouncing the Cabinet’s nod for a separate Telangana.
The situation was bad when State electricity employees also joined the stir and all the thirteen districts in Seemandhra region plunged into darkness. Even though the agitating electricity employees called off their stir within 72 hours, the consequential impairment nevertheless had a cascading effect on the remaining days of the festival period ultimately resulting in poor turnout.
Movement of devotees restricted
The movement of pilgrims was restricted to a large extent and devotees were caged in the open-top galleries hours in advance (thanks to the over-enthusiasm of the police who were deployed in large numbers) around the mada streets. Devotees in the harathi queue lines were a disgruntled lot. Despite spending long hours in the queue, devotees complained that priests atop the vahanam refused to accept their harathi plates. Devotees in a sardonic way opined that the daily processions of the deity nonetheless reminded them of the Republic Day parade in New Delhi wherein tableaus of different states are showcased. The security personnel manning the important gates at all the corners of the mada streets were cosseted in facilitating their kith and kin witness the daily processions comfortably forgetting the purpose for which they were deployed. The fact that the TTD’s CVSO G.V.G. Ashok Kumar on several instances was found reprimanding the police officials, speaks about the situation.
VIPs a cause of worry
The self proclaimed VIPs also were a cause of worry to the temple administration. Though unwarranted, they formed a major chunk of the daily processions along with their kith and kin hindering the movement of the royal pageantry.
Meanwhile the TTD’s medical unit also came under sharp criticism for its ostentatious display. A pilgrim party from Coimbatore which was put up in one of the mutts atop the hill town, despite their frenzied efforts could not get the TTD ambulance in time when one of their family members suffered a massive heart attack on the day of Rathotsavam. On the other hand, the 108 service rushed its ambulance to the spot within a short notice. However, the TTD health officials, on receiving information, not only rushed to the aid of the pilgrim party but also helped them in shifting the dead body to their hometown.
Despite all the odds, the nine-day extravaganza concluded on a successful note.