Millions throng Goverdhan for annual pilgrimage

July 15th, 2011 - 8:44 pm ICT by IANS  

Goverdhan (Uttar Pradesh), July 15 (IANS) A staggering 70 lakh pilgrims have converged on this Uttar Pradesh town around the Goverdhan hill, which, mythology has it, Lord Krishna lifted on his little finger to save the people from Lord Indra’s wrath, for the annual Mudiya Poornamasi fair.

Though the district authorities have been on a high vigil following the Mumbai blasts, the pilgrims showed no sign of anxiety as they inched their way to complete the 21-km long pilgrimage circling the holy hill, shouting “Giriraj maharaj ki jai”, “Radhey Radhey” and “Hari bol”.

“On Thursday itself, more than 50 lakh pilgrims had taken a holy dip in the Mansi Ganga in Goverdhan,” said a police officer.

District authorities Friday morning deployed more security personnel on the pilgrimage route and at the holy pond in the heart of Goverdhan town.

Police sources said “more than a crore pilgrims would have visited Goverdhan by the time the fair ends Saturday.”

More than 20 private parking areas have been developed which are overwhelmed with vehicles.

“District authorities in Mathura said that over 3,000 personnel have been deployed and CCTV cameras are keeping a close vigil. Movement of all types of vehicles, including rickshaws, has been stopped in the circling area,” a police officer said.

“Pleasant weather has been one major factor in attracting a larger turnout this year,” said Gopi Ballabh, a priest at the main temple in Daan Ghati.

The town of Jati Pura was overflowing with people. Other shrines along the pilgrimage route like Radha Kund, Shyam Kund, Kusum Sarovar, Har Gokul, were also crowded as pilgrims made the offering of milk and other materials in prayer to the lord.

All the temples were lit up while loudspeakers were blaring devotional music.

“They are unconcerned about facilities and willing to go through any ordeal but somehow they want to finish the parikrama (circumambulation) on the very important poornamasi (full moon night) Friday,” said Manu Baba at Radha Kund temple, once a haven for widows of West Bengal.

All along the pilgrimage route one hears only “Radhey Radhey” as people make their way, chanting joyously.

“The roadside tea stalls and others selling prayer offering are doing a roaring business. The number of complaints against supply of synthetic milk for offering has been very high, but the administration is not concerned,” said Mohan Babu at another temple.

Pilgrims from Rajasthan, Haryana, Uttar Pradesh Madhya Pradesh were pouring in even as showers lashed the town for three hours Thursday and there were intermittent rains Friday.

“The pressure on police camps sheltering those who have lost their relatives is very high,” said an NGO functionary, Ramesh Sharma.

Uttar Pradesh Roadways was running an additional 1,000 buses while the railways have extended some trains to cater to the rush.

Roadways general manager Atul Shrotriya said: “We have provided adequate number of buses this year and every half an hour there will be a bus to clear the rush.”

With Mudiya Poornamasi fair, the festival season in the Braj Mandal area starts and goes on till Janamashtmi, when the birth of Lord Krishna is celebrated.

Beginning Friday, Mathura, Vrindavan and other religious sites associated with Lord Krishna will see lakhs of pilgrims till Janmashtami.

“The biggest problem of this area is dirt, and heaps of garbage,” said a priest at Radha Kund temple.

“The pilgrimage route in Goverdhan should have been spruced up and thoroughly cleaned much in advance. Even the Manasi Ganga, the main water tank where a pilgrim must take a holy dip after the parikrama, has not been cleaned up… the water is dirty and stinking,” the priest added.

Administrative officials were hoping the fair would pass off peacefully and without any hassle.

“Management of such a big and frenzied crowd poses a whole lot of problems. Everyone is in a hurry. Many seem to believe that if the pilgrimage is not performed in a stipulated time, they would be denied entry to heaven,” said a priest.

(Brij Khandelwal can be contacted at

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