Hyderabad, July 26 (IANS) More than 11 crore people took a dip in the Godavari river in Telangana and Andhra Pradesh during the 12-day Godavari maha pushkaralu festival that ended on Saturday.
While 6.40 crore people took the dip in Telangana, the others did so in Andhra Pradesh, officials said on Sunday.
The once in 144-year event passed off peacefully barring a stampede that killed 27 pilgrims on the first day on July 14 in Rajahmundry in Andhra Pradesh.
Speaking at a meeting at Rajahmundy on Sunday, Andhra Pradesh Chief Minister N. Chandrababu Naidu said pushkaralu will go down in the history as a memorable event.
He said that after the tragedy on the first day, all officials went on alert and discharged their responsiblities efficiently.
Naidu announced 150 percent dearness allowance for all the government employees who were on duty during the event.
He also declared that Rajahmundry would be soon renamed as Rajamahendri to highlight the glory of the city.
The pushkaralu came to a colourful end on Saturday night with fireworks and laser show in Rajahmundry.
There was also an enchanting Kuchipudi ballet by over 1,000 dancers, depicting the story of Godavari.
Lakhs of people thronged the ghats in Rajahmundry and 263 other ghats in East Godavari and West Godavari district.
Andhra minister Palle Raghunath Reddy said 3.31 crore people took a dip in East Godavari and 1.49 crore in West Godavari.
Yoga guru Baba Ramdev and Swami Nirmalananda were among the prominent pilgrims who took the dip on the last day in Rajahmundry.
Meanwhile, pilgrims who wanted to take a bath on Sunday in the temple town Bhadrachalam in Telangana were stopped from doing so.
The festival in Telangana ended with Swami Paripoornananda performing the rituals at Dharampuri in Karimnagar district.
Telangana’s Endowment Minister Indarakaran Reddy said 2.83 crore pilgrims took the dip in Karimnagar alone.
Though pushkaralu, dedicated to worshipping rivers, take place once in 12 years, this time it is considered very auspicious. Priests say such an event comes once in 144 years.
People from across the country took the holy dip in the Godavari, known as south Ganga.