Four die at temple inauguration in Andhra Pradesh (Lead)

April 22nd, 2008 - 11:50 pm ICT by admin  


Chennai/Hyderabad, April 22 (IANS) Within hours of its inauguration, a temple of a Hindu sect in an Andhra Pradesh town Tuesday had to be shut down following a stampede by thousands of devotees that left four people dead. One person was trampled upon and three other people died of exhaustion. The “Oneness Temple” situated at Tada in Andhra Pradesh, 80 km north of here, was shut down following the incident.

Eyewitnesses claimed that dozens of persons died in a stampede in the temple, but the organisers flatly denied the charge. However, government officials at the spot confirmed the death toll of four.

“The overwhelming response (with over 600,000 people visiting the temple Tuesday) has caused the organisers to temporarily stop the function keeping in mind the safety of the visiting people to the site. Unexpected crowd surge resulted in damage to the barricades and other structures which lead to the main temple structure,” a temple press release said.

“The organisers categorically deny any kind of casualties at the temple site during today’s (Tuesday) function,” the press statement added.

The week-long event of devotion and love aims at human beings’ relief from inherent suffering.

“We have postponed the event only because we wanted to prevent any injury to any of our half a million plus devotees who arrived with infants and toddlers to be blessed. We expected only a fifth of that crowd and had made arrangements only for that number,” a temple spokesman told IANS.

“Our mission is to create a set of universally tolerant human beings whose re-engineered consciousness would accord form, structure, destiny and direction to today’s world, thereby awakening man to oneness, resulting in individual and global transformation,” Acharya Samdarshinini, the spokesperson of the organisation, told reporters earlier immediately after the inauguration.

Founded by Sri Amma and Sri Bhagwan in 2002 on the outskirts of Chennai, the UniverCity houses a temple whose centrepiece is a “Golden Ball of Divine Grace”, which would lead to a series of neurobiological changes in the human brain creating higher levels of consciousness. The organisation has millions of followers in India as well as across the world and a full-fledged university in Fiji, the organisation’s press communiqu

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