Sri Lankan President Mahinda Rajapaksa on Wednesday offered prayers at the famous hill temple of Lord Venkateswara. After an overnight stay in the sacred town, he took part in the Suprabhata seva in the temple in the wee hours of the day. Despite being entitled for the Mahadwaram entry, he preferred reaching the temple through the Vaikuntam queue complex along with his entourage.
While the temple priests honoured him with the Silk vastram of the deity, the authorities presented him with the New year diary, calendar and memento of the Lord. The President's son Yoshita Rajapaksa, who accompanied him, also participated in the Thomala seva.
In an informal address to the media, who had congregated in huge number outside the main temple complex, Mr. Rajapaksa said he had prayed for the co-existence of all religions.
Protests against Rajapaksa visit
Meanwhile, the police resorted to mild force to quell a group of protesters, believed to be sympathisers of various Tamil political parties, at Lepakshi circle when they allegedly tried to force their way towards the main temple complex amidst sloganeering even while the President was inside the temple.
Reports indicated that some of the representatives of the electronic media who came from Tamil Nadu were among those taken into custody.However, they were later let off.
The temple administration not only cancelled the Angapradikshinam organised daily inside the temple, but also restricted the discretionary quota of Suprabhatam tickets to protocol VIPs.
Later, winding up his two-day pilgrimage to the sacred shrine, President Rajapaksa motored down to Tirupati from where he flew back to Colombo.