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‘Pitripaksha Mela’ kicks off at Gaya

???????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????? Amidst chanting of Vedic hymns and ritual incantations, Bihar Chief Minister Jitan Ram Manjhi today inaugurated the famous ‘Pitripaksha Mela’ at Gaya, around 100 km southeast from Patna.

Hindus from the world over visit it to pay homage to their ancestors, especially through ‘pind daan’ or food offerings. The annual event around this time of the year is organised with the ‘Vishnupad Temple’, having the footprints of Lord Vishnu, at its centre.

“We want the world famous Pitripaksha Mela to be better. The state government will provide an additional Rs one crore for arrangements for pilgrims during the event. Earlier, Rs 54 crore was given for the mela arrangement,” said Manjhi on the occasion.

Usually it is considered the duty of the eldest son or the heir to offer food oblations to the departed family members and pray for peace and liberation of their souls. The rituals have been practiced at Gaya since yore.

“With the inauguration of the fortnight long event, Gaya, also considered the final pilgrimage place for all Hindus, will see around 14 to 15 lakh people converge here for the purpose,” said Bihar State Tourism Development Corporation (BSTDC) General Manager Navin Kumar.

BSTDC officials said already over 4 lakh pilgrims have arrived in the city to complete the ‘pind daan’ rituals or oblations during the first couple of days. Others are being expected as the fortnight progresses.

Elaborate security arrangements have been made for the Pitripaksha Mela. The entire shrine area has been divided into 38 zones and each of them is being monitored by an executive magistrate.

Bihar Police, CRPF, RAF, all women police teams, dog squads have been deployed for preventing any untoward incident. Four Deputy Superintendents of Police have been assigned for the mela duty.

Additional precaution is being observed as terrorists had struck at the Mahabodhi Temple around 10 km from Gaya on July 7, 2013.

– PTI