Tirupati: More than seven lakh devotees had darshan of Lord Venkateswara in the temple atop the Tirumala hills here during the Srivari Salakatla Brahmotsavam, the nine-day annual festival concluding on Tuesday.
Officials of Tirumala Tirupati Devasthanam (TTD), which manages the affairs of the hill shrine, said the number of devotees increased by 20 per cent over the previous year. TTD Executive Officer (EO) Anil Kumar Singhal told the media that the TTD sold 31 lakh 'laddus' this year against 24 lakh 'laddus' sold during the festival last year.
More than one lakh pilgrims had darshan on Monday, the penultimate day of the festival. On the last day of Brahmotsavam, Chakra Snanam was performed by the priests. Special prayers were offered to the idols of the deity, following which they were dipped in the waters of Swamy Pushkarini, a pond situated at the temple.
The festival begun on September 30 with the Dwajarohanam (flag hoisting ceremony), where a flag with an image of Lord Garuda was hoisted atop the temple's Dwajasthambam (flag pole). As per the custom, Andhra Pradesh Chief Minister YS Jagan Mohan Reddy presented a pair of silk robes to the deity on behalf of the state government.
Various rituals were performed and processions were taken out. The most important event Garuda Seva was held on October 4. Nearly 85,000 devotees had darshan on the day when the sacred procession of Lord Venkateswara was taken out. The deity was mounted on a gold idol of Garuda and taken around the streets with much fanfare and prayers. Singhal said the number of devotees visiting the temple increased by 25 per cent on the occasion of Garuda Seva. He said as part of the security arrangements, more than 1,400 CCTV cameras were set up at vantage points to monitor the movement of devotees.
Singhal added that in view of the increasing number of child kidnappings from the temple premises, around 1.42 lakh children accompanying the devotees were tagged with the details of their parents to easily trace them in case they get separated in the congregation.(IANS)