It was a sea of human heads. Over three lakh devotees witnessed the famous Chhatar Yatra of Goddess Manikeswari here on Monday.
Besides devotees from various corners of the district, those from neighbouring districts and states participated. On the midnight of Astami, after the Sandhi puja, the ceremonial Chhatar of the deity was carried secretly to Jenakhal on the outskirts of the town, 3 km from the temple.
At about 5.30 am on Monday after the performance of secret rituals at Jenakhal, the Chhatra of the deity started its return journey to the temple accompanied by Jena Vadya, Ghanta, Kahali and Ghumura. The chorus created a thrilling experience. Devotees performed puja and thousands of them offered animal sacrifice on either side of the route. In contrast, another group of devotees released doves on fulfilment of their wishes. District administration and police took adequate measures for peaceful organisation of the yatra.
However, the tradition of sacrifice continued despite the government ban. A government officer said as sacrifices are carried out in an unorganised manner along the roads it is hard to stop the practice by force.
In some cases the devotees who cannot make it to the yatra, sacrifice animals at places about five to six km away from the yatra during the ‘muhurta’.