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President Murmu walks down to Shree Jaganath Temple, kneels down at Lion’s Gate

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Puri, Nov 10 (PTI): President Droupadi Murmu Thursday walked about one km on the grand road here to the 12th century lord Jagannath temple and offered prayers for the wellbeing of the nation.

The temple was closed to the common people from 10.30 am to 1 pm in view of Murmu’s visit but hundreds of devotees who had lined up on both sides of the road greeted her as she walked past them.

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Murmu, who hails from a tribal community in Mayurbhanj district, touched the Aruna Stambha, the 16 -sided 34 feet tall monolithic chlorite stone pillar in front of the Lion’s Gate (Singhadwara) of the temple and knelt down before the gate. She also knelt down before the sibling deities Lord Jagannath, Devi Subhadra and Lord Balaram in the sanctum sanctorum in obeisance.

The president, who arrived in Bhubaneswar earlier in the day, surprised the security personnel accompanying her as she stopped her carcade at Balagandi Chhak and walked down to the temple like a common devotee. She kept both her hands raised invoking Lord Jagannath and also waved to the waiting people.

On the way to the temple, Murmu, who had worked as a teacher in the 1990s, reached out to the students of Utkal Hindi Vidyalaya waiting on the side of the Grand Road and mingled with them and their teachers. She was photographed with the children before proceeding towards the temple.

On her arrival at the Lion’s Gate, the president was welcomed by Gajapati Maharaja Dibya Singh Deb of Puri, the priests and government officers. Deb presented a Patachitra painting to her on behalf of the temple.

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“You are the first servitor of Lord Jagannath and are the living God,” Murmu told Gajapati Maharaj when he appeared uncomfortable for being told ‘Namaste’ by the president.

Murmu knelt down at the Lion’s Gate as a mark of respect to the deity and entered the shrine after properly washing her feet like common devotees. She touched all the 22 steps leading to the temple with her hands as a sign of her devotion to the deities, her family priest Raj Ratan Mahapatra said.

“We accompanied President Murmu to the sanctum sanctorum where she offered a diya (lamp) to the Lord and prayed for about 15 minutes,” the priest.

Murmu, who was accompanied by her daughter Itishree, offered a ‘Tulsi’ garland to Lord Jagannath, another made of lotus at the Mahalaxmi temple and another of hibiscus flowers at the Maa Bimala temple, Mahapatra said.

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She wrote in Odia in the register book maintained by her family priest: “I feel fortunate for having darshan of Chaturdha Murti and gods and goddesses in the temple premises. I feel a rare bliss for having prayed to Lord Jagannath, who is the presiding deity of all Odias. Mahaprabhu is the ‘daru devata’ (god in tree wood) of tribals and God of the entire world. I pray before Him for the well being of the entire human kind. Let our country reach the peak of prosperity and development by the grace of Lord Jaganath. This is my wish.”

While leaving temple she garlanded the statue of Utkalmani Gopa Bandhu Das near the Lion’s Gate. It was installed by Mahatma Gandhi in 1934.

Mahapatra said that Murmu had visited the temple several times earlier when she was a councilor of Rairangpur notified area council, an MLA, a minister and the governor of Jharkhand. “I had accompanied her on all those occasions. But this time she appeared to be soaked in spirituality and was highly emotional”.

More than 25 platoons of police have been deployed for the president’s visit to the pilgrim town. She later left for the Raj Bhavan here before going to Bhubaneswar. She is scheduled to eat the ‘Mahaprasad’ at the Raj Bhavan.

On her arrival at the Bhubaneswar airport, she was welcomed by Odisha Governor Ganeshi Lal and CM Naveen Patnaik.

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The Hills Times
The Hills Timeshttps://www.thehillstimes.in/
The Hills Times, a largely circulated English daily published from Diphu and printed in Guwahati, having vast readership in hills districts of Assam, and neighbouring Nagaland, Meghalaya, Arunachal Pradesh and Manipur.
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