Devotees brave cold weather and morning chill; queue up before the temple as early as 2 am; more than 25,000 visit the temple till Friday noon.
It was a sea of humanity on Friday at the Chamundeshwari Temple atop the Chamundi Hills on the first Aashada Shukravara or AashadaFriday. People from Mysuru and surrounding districts thronged the hill temple for a darshan of Goddess Chamundeshwari.
Pilgrims started pouring as early as 2 am for the darshan at the crack of dawn on Friday, the day that is reckoned to be auspicious to the Goddess. Though the crowd at the hill shrine swells on every Friday, it is particularly high during the Aashada season given the religious beliefs linking the season with the deity.
Aashada, the holy month for Hindus, began on July 5 and the Aashada Shukravara falls on four Fridays – July 8, 15 and 22 and 29. The Vardhanthi (birthday) of the Goddess Chamundeshwari is scheduled for July 26.
The very first puja to the presiding deity was performed at 3:30 am by priests led by the head priest Shashi Shekhar Dixit and Devi Prasad Dixit and the rituals included Rudrabhisheka and Panchamruta Abhisheka. The temple doors were opened to the devotees at 4:30 am.
This time, MLA G T Devegowda had taken the responsibility of decorating the temple precincts with traditional designs using flowers, bunches of grapes and tender coconut that were suspended from the ceiling.
The temple management, this time, had arranged for special darshan tickets for Rs 100 and Rs 50. There was also a free darshan and barricades were set up accordingly.
Many voluntary organisations including the Sneha Balaga and SLV Drycleaners had arranged free food and prasadam to the devotees. Dishes including dry fruits laddoo, bisibele bath, curd rice, white rice and rasam were distributed.
Free KSTRC bus service were made available for devotees from 2 am to 10 pm. People were directed to park their vehicles at the helipad grounds and take a bus to the hill shrine. In all, 30 buses were arranged to ferry passengers to and fro the hill. Special buses also carried devotees from the City Bus Stand to the hill shrine.
Sri Chamundeshwari Temple Trust would bear the cost of transportation and extend funds directly to the KSRTC. The arrangement has been made to prevent traffic gridlocks. Private vehicles movement was banned from Uttanahalli towards the hilltop.
Parking arrangements were monitored by city police and special teams from the CCB, DAR and CAR wings were formed for the purpose. 360-degree high-vision CCTV cameras were installed at strategic places both inside and outside the temple complex.
Battery-operated vehicles ferried persons with disabilities and senior devotees from the Mahishasura statue. Special parking zones were created for government vehicles and the media vehicles.
With a blanket ban on use of plastic bags in force officials were seen checking devotees for plastic bags at the helipad. Alternative arrangements were made to provide them with cloth bags to carry puja materials and prasadam. Visitors’ information centres and kiosks were set up near the helipad.