PURI: A mammoth gathering was witnessed at the Badadanda on Thursday as devotees thronged the Jagannath temple to seek blessings of the Trinity to usher in the new year. The gathering had VVIPs including Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik.
Rain, notwithstanding, lakhs of devotees and tourists from various parts of the country, mostly West Bengal, visited Puri to offer prayers at the 12th century temple while some arrived just to enjoy the year-end celebrations on the beach.
The Chief Minister was accompanied by Tourism Minister Ashok Panda, MP Prasanna Patsani, legislator Maheswar Mohanty and Tourism Secretary Arvind Padhee. One way entry system was enforced in the temple since early morning. While pilgrims were allowed to enter the temple through the Lions Gate, the exit was through the three other gates.
Later, Naveen paid tributes to his father late Biju Patnaik at his ‘samadhi’ where a ‘sarva dharma’ prayer was organised. He also unveiled the statue of Swami Vivekananda at the Acharya Harihar square and inaugurated the new tourist office at Subhas Bose square.
Adequate police bandobast was made in and around the temple to avert any untoward incident. Close circuit cameras were installed at strategic locations to monitor the crowd. The temple administration had rescheduled the rituals so that more devotees can have ‘darshan’ of the deities.
A similar crowd was also seen on the beach. Since late Wednesday night, tourists waited at the beach to witness the fireworks as soon as the clock struck zero hour. They spent the night on the beach, took holy dip in the sea early in the morning and offered prayers to the Sun God. Hundreds of lifeguards were deployed on the beach.