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President to inaugurate celebrations today

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Staff Correspondent

Kalam will dedicate 50-bed children's hospital on the occasion

The 50-bed hospital was constructed at a cost of Rs. 1.5 crore It will serve 38 villages in and around Shravanabelagola 4,000 police personnel have been deployed for the inauguration Only invitees are allowed for the programme

SHRAVANABELAGOLA: The curtains for the first Mahamastakabhisheka of the new millennium will go up on Sunday with President A.P.J. Abdul Kalam inaugurating the celebration at 11.49 a.m. at Panchayakalyana Mantapa, which has been put up for the purpose. On the occasion, Mr. Kalam will dedicate a children's hospital, constructed by Sri Digambara Jain Math Committee (SDJMC).

Governor T.N. Chaturvedi will participate in the event as chief guest. Former Prime Minister and Hassan MP H.D. Deve Gowda will preside. Chief Minister N. Dharam Singh will release a souvenir and address the gathering. Deputy Chief Minister M.P. Prakash, Minister for Public Works and Energy H.D. Revanna and Information Minister B. Shivaram will participate in the programme. Sri 108 Vardhamana Muni Sagar will deliver the benediction address and Charukeerthi Bhattaraka swamiji.

The police have made elaborate security arrangement for the President's visit. More than 4,000 police personnel have been deployed. According to sources, only invitees are allowed to attend the inauguration programme, and the security check will be rigorous.

The 50-bed hospital, constructed at a cost of Rs. 1.5 crore, will serve 38 villages in and around Shravanabelagola, according to sources in the SDJMC.

During the Mahamastakabhisheka in 1993, the SDJMC opened the National Institute of Prakrit Study and Research.

The hospital is the brainchild of Charukeerthi Bhattaraka swamiji. According to him, it is a symbol of service, love and non-violence propagated by Jain philosophy. It was a 17-year-old dream to build a hospital for children from rural areas.

Sri Digambara Jain Math conducted a medical camp for the first time in 1981, during which cataract operations were performed on 1,000 patients. This was to mark the 1,000th year celebration of the math at the pilgrim centre. During the last Mahamastakabhisheka, it introduced a mobile clinic to help people from rural areas. Health check-up camps were also held in villages in and around Shravanabelagola. Besides nutritious food, vitamin tablets were distributed among children.

Tributes to saint

The Digambar Jain Math on Friday paid rich tributes to Acharya Mahaveera Keerhi Muni on his 35th commemoration day. Charukeerthi Bhattaraka Swamiji said the acharya was instrumental in protecting the Digambar Jain tradition.

He instilled values in his disciples, and they are imparting religious values to society.

Monks arrive

The number of Jain monks at Shravanabelagola has increased to 148 with the arrival of Acharya 108 Sri Niranjan Sagar Muni, Acharya 108 Vimadh Sagar Muni and Acharya 108 Vinischay Sagar Muni accompanied by a group of seven monks. Charukeerthi Bhattaraka swamiji received them at the Math. Acharya 108 Vardhamana Sagar Muni was present.

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