2 lakh devotees throng Balaji temple for 'Garuda Seva'

Braving rains, an estimated two lakh devotees from across the country witnessed the 'Garuda Seva' procession of Lord Venkateswara of the famous hill shrine at Tirumala on the fifth day of the annual Navaratri Brahmotsavam tonight.

During the event, considered most sacred of the festival, traditional 'utsav' (processional) idol of the Lord, bejeweled with numerous diamond-studded ornaments and mounted on the richly decorated golden 'Garuda Vahanam' (carrier) was taken out in a grand procession as the air reverberated with the chanting of 'Govindaa Govindaa' by the huge rush of pilgrims.

Temple sources told media that had it not been for the incessant rains since noon, the pilgrim rush would have been about four lakh.

Yet, the sprawling open space in front of the shrine and the open-top galleries built on either side of the holy\ 'mada' streets encircling the hill temple were jam-packed with devotees crowd holding thousands of umbrellas to escape from the continuous rain from the noon.

A very thick security cover was put in place on the hills and the routes leading to the hill shrine, they said.

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