VISAKHAPATNAM: The first batch of the sandalwood paste extraction from sandalwood sticks for the annual fest of Chandanotsavam, has begun at Sri Varaha Lakshmi Nrusimha Swamy temple at Simhachalam in Visakhapatnam Thursday. Simultaneously, the officials have started preparations for the annual festival to be celebrated on April 21.
The temple priests, led by head priest Gopalakrishnamacharyulu, started the ritual amidst vedic hymns, in the presence of temple executive officer K Ramachandramohan and retired head priest M Sitaramacharyulu. The sandalwood sticks were first placed before the temple deity for puja and later, taken out for a procession around the Beda mandapam. The extraction of the sandalwood paste will be completed in three days.
During Chandanotsavam, the existing sandalwood paste would be removed, and fresh paste will be reapplied on the idol. The deity will be covered with sandalwood paste throughout the year except during Chandanotsavam festival. This day devotees get a chance to have a glimpse of the Lord’s Nijarupa, the original form of the deity.
Nearly two lakh people are expected to attend the festival and beging arriving from April 20, for which the officials of Simhachalam temple and local administration are making elaborate arrangements. Emergency medical services, drinking water supply and other facilities would be provided for the convenience of devotees attending from different parts of Andhra Pradesh and neighbouring states. Temple executive officer K Ramachandramohan said the removal of the sandalwood paste from the main deity would begin around midnight and the Nijarupa darshan would be held at 2 am on April 21. The gates for free darshan would be opened from the early hours beginning 3 am. Special arrangements are being made for VIPs who would be attending the festival as well as for darshan on the following day. Separate queue lines will be arranged for free darshan and for VIP devotees purchasing tickets worth Rs 200 and Rs 500 apart from passes worth Rs 1,000. The APSRTC will operate 38 special buses from different parts of the district besides neighbouring districts and Odisha state.