The “Pitripaksh Mahasangam”, a Hindu ritual which draws people from far and wide to this central Bihar town for a fortnight every year, went underway on Thursday.
During the fortnight, Hindus pray for the salvation of departed souls.
The annual congregation was inaugurated here by Deputy Chief Minister Sushil Kumar Modi in presence of his cabinet colleagues and parliamentarians and legislators.
The deputy CM along with a host of dignitaries offered prayers on the occasion at the Vishnupad temple along the Falgu river, which is likely to remain abuzz with activity till the conclusion of the congregation on September 28.
District Magistrate, Gaya, Abhishek Kumar Singh, said arrangements have been made to accommodate up to eight lakh devotees during the congregation who would be provided with facilities like health camps, buses and e-rickshaw for commute and safe and hygienic drinking water.
“Vedis (altars) have been cleaned up and given a fresh coat of paint. Security has also been given due importance with installation of adequate number of CCTV cameras across the town and deputation of 550 magistrates who would be guiding the police personnel,” Singh said.
Senior Superintendent of Police (SSP) Rajiv Mishra said priests have been provided with identity cards to prevent swindlers from making hay on the occasion.
“Pandas (priests who conduct Pind Daan) have been provided with I-cards so that anti-social elements do not come in disguise to swindle visitors and people go back with good memories of Bihar, as desired by Chief Minister Nitish Kumar during a recent meeting,” the SSP added.
Bodh Gaya and Mahabodhi Mahavihar have been in the hit list of the JMB and the terror group is said to have made at least three attempts to pull off attacks.
The Bihar and West bengal police departments have been robbed of
their sleep, ahead of the fortnight-long Pitripaksh Mela beginning on
September 12, as they recovered huge quantities of ammonium nitrate,
timers, gelatins and wires from the rooms taken on rent in the city by
terror suspects owing allegiance to Bangladesh’s Jamat-Ul-Mujahideen
(JMB). Deputy superintendent of police Ghuran Mandal said electronic
devices and explosives seized during raids on Friday indicated a major
Bodh Gaya and Mahabodhi Mahavihar have been in the
hit list of the JMB and the terror group is said to have made at least
three attempts to pull off attacks. Ajaz Ahmad, the suspected India head
of the Bangladesh-based terror outfit who was arrested from Gaya five
days ago in a joint operation by West Bengal and Bihar police, has
reportedly told interrogators about plans to stage terror attacks during
religious congregations in Gaya and Bodh Gaya.
Ajaj is a suspect
in Bodh Gaya serial blasts. Following Ahmad’s arrest, sleuths have been
raiding suspected hideouts of terror suspects to bust sleeper cells in
Bihar and Jharkhand.
Pitripaksh Mela is scheduled to be
inaugurated by the chief minister on September 12. The Gaya police and
the district administration have resolved to install CCTVs at key points
to keep a watch. Door frame metal detectors are being installed at
entry gates of the Vishnupad shrine, where every pilgrim will be scanned
before entering the shrine.
Over 10 lakh pilgrims arrive here during the fortnight mela to perform rituals for the salvation of their ancestors’ souls.