A large number of pilgrims took part in Ratha Sapthami celebrations at Tirumala on Friday. Even though, the Tirumala Tirupati Devashtanams (TTD) had provided just around 50,000 ‘darshan’ tickets on the festival day in adherence to the COVID guidelines, the turnout was far beyond expectations.
The occasion to witness seven processions of the Lord in a single day might have also prompted pilgrims to visit Tirumala. Majority of them wore face masks and had hand sanitisers. However, they didn’t adhere to physical distancing norm during processions.
The festival took off to a ceremonial start with the procession of Suryaprabha Vahanam before the break of dawn and culminated with Chandraprabha Vahanam in the night with periodical ‘vahanams’ in between.
A large number of devotees, who had converged at the north-west corner of the hill temple, went into raptures as soon as the rays touched divine feet of the deity mounted atop the golden Suryaprabha Vahanam. The air was electrified with the chorus recitals of verses by Vedic students and rhythmic chanting of ‘govinda namam’ by the assembled devotees.
It was a sight to behold as thousands of devotees offered ‘haratis’ to the deity from the place where they stood. The day was also marked with the processions of Chinna Sesha, Garuda, Hanumanta, Kalpavriksha and Sarva Bhoopala Vahanams besides Chakrasnanam in ekantham.
The TTD Annadanam personnel had a tough time in ensuring uninterrupted supply of food packets to the devotees while the health workers laboured in maintaining hygiene.
Ambulance services were kept ready at all the four corners of the hill temple to meet any kind of exigencies and mobile medical teams were pressed into service.