‘Giri Pradakshina’ leaves highway chock-a-block

Religious fervour: (Clockwise) Devotees accompanying the ‘radham’ (chariot) of Sri Varaha Lakshmi Narasimha Swamy during the ‘Giri pradakshina’ in Visakhapatnam on Thursday. Vehicles caught in traffic snarl on NH-16 near Hanumanathawaka. Devotees having buttermilk provided by voluntary organisations. Roads littered with plastic water sachets and paper cups.  

Almost all major junctions along the stretch of National Highway-16 passing through the city were chock-a-block on Thursday as thousands of devotees of Lord Appanna, the presiding deity of Varaha Lakshminrusimha Swamy temple atop Simhachalam Hill, walked barefoot to complete the 32-km circumambulation of the hill, as part of the annual ‘Giri Pradakshina’ ritual.

The ritual is done every year on the ‘Ashadha Pournima’ day, which invariably falls on the third or fourth week of July.

Trickle turns into a wave

The ritual started with trickle of devotees in the morning. But as the day grew longer, the devotee count swelled, turning into a sea of humanity by 7 p.m. and it continued into the night as the devotees had to complete the ‘Giri Pradakshina’ by Friday afternoon, due to the lunar eclipse falling on the same day.

Though an ancient ritual, it gained popularity in the last decade. According to an estimate, around 3 to 4 lakh devotees participate in the ritual every year. However, sources said that devotee count this year was less when compared to the previous year, blaming it on the lunar eclipse.

Young or old alike were seen moving in waves all along the 32-km route from Jodugullapalem to Simhachalam foot hills. Almost every major junctions such as Hanumanthawaka and NAD Kotha Road was chock-a-block with devotees walking on the road. Despite heavy bandobust, the men in khaki had a tough time regulating the vehicular traffic.

Puffing, sweating and panting, as it was a sunny day on Thursday, the devotees went round the hill. They devotees walked from Jodugullapalem to the Simhachalam foothills via NAD Kotha Road.

After breaking coconuts, they were seen walking back to Jodugullapalem via Adivaram and Arilova to the beach for a holy dip.

Belief has it that going around the Simhachalam Hill on this auspicious day is equivalent to circumambulation of the world.

“It is believed that Giri Pradakshina is equivalent to walking around the world or ‘Prapancha Pradikshina’. Some believe it is equal to ‘Kailash Pradakshina’ (circumambulation of the holy mountain of Kailash, the abode of Lord Shiva ),” said a devotee while trying to keeping pace with the crowd.

Heavy bandobust

The police deployed about 2,212 personnel across the ranks and the bandobust was supervised by all senior officers including DCPs and ACPs. Mobile vans, Rakshak and Blue Colt vehicles were stationed at all strategic locations.

Traffic restrictions along the key routes were imposed from 6 a.m. on Thursday and will continue till 1 p.m. on Friday.

Apart from setting up hundreds of mobile bio-toilets and stationing ambulances, the government departments also set up water and food kiosks all along the 32-km route.

The members of city clubs and associations played good Samaritans. At least 2,000 stalls manned by local youth and members of the respective colonies were set up, supplying free water and refreshments including ‘vadas’ to ‘pulihoras’to the devotees.

Spiritual organisations such as Sathya Sai Seva Organisation, ISKCON and Hare Krishna Foundation also set up stalls.

“We were very impressed with the arrangements made by various associations and clubs. We never fell short of water or refreshments, all along the route,” said Krishna Sai, a devotee.

Political parties seized this opportunities to reach out to the people. Almost all parties such as Jana Sena Party, YSR Congress, TDP and Congress pitched tents providing water and food.

Tough task at hand

Despite repeated appeals by the district authorities against use of plastic, the roads were found littered with water sachets, plastic glasses and food packets. The GMVC officials were on duty round the clock cleaning up the mess. “We are having a tough time to clean the heaps of plastic dumped on the road,” rued Savitri, a sanitation worker of the GVMC.

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Printable version | Dec 3, 2021 11:01:13 AM |

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