Lakhs of devotees from different parts of the country on Saturday took part in the annual Ratha Sapthami festival celebrated at the Lord Venkateswara temple here.
The festival started with the auspicious procession of Surya Prabha Vahanam at 5.00 A.M before the break of dawn.
A celestial spectacle
The town milled with pilgrim activities with devotees congregating at the North-West corner of the hill temple since Friday night to witness the first rays of Sun fall on the feet of Lord Malayappa mounted on the dazzling Surya Prabha Vahanam.
The scene at the North-West corner of the town was choc-a-bloc with the devotees occupying every inch of available space. The town was soaked in religious fervor and the devotees remained spellbound with the rhythmic chanting of sacred extracts from Aditya Hridayam and Suryastakam by the students of SV Balamandir – an orphanage run by TTD.
Devotees, who till then waited patiently went into raptures as the sunrays touched the feet of the deity atop the vahanam. It was a sight to behold as tens of thousands of devotees offered Harathis standing at their respective places.
Later, the day was marked by the periodical processions of the Lord on Chinna Sesha, Garuda, Hanumantha, Kalpavriksha, Sarva Bhoopala Vahanams and concluded with the grand procession of Chandra Prabha.
Top brass on the field
The authorities had a tough time in ensuring uninterrupted supply of free food packets and water bottles with tens of thousands of devotees remaining glued to their positions around the mada streets. The temporary sheds set up along the mada streets to protect the devotees from the afternoon sun and chill weather during the evening also made them affixed to their seats. Devotees were all praise for the unprecedented arrangements and verbalized their satisfaction when the TTD Executive officer Anilkumar Singhal and Additional EO A.V. Dharma Reddy personally interacted them.
The food counters set up in large numbers came in handy to the TTD in the free distribution of food nutrients. Para medical staff moved around in a battery-operated vehicle and dispersed free medicines to the needy devotees.