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Mamata Offers Prayers

Puri: An ardent devotee of Lord Jagannatha, Mamata Banerjee, West Bengal Chief Minister Wednesday offered prayers at the Shree Jagannath Temple here and offered a huge flag, which was tied atop the 12th-century shrine, seeking the welfare of all people.

The 68-year-old Banerjee, accompanied by senior government officials from West Bengal and Odisha, entered the temple at 4 PM and had a darshan of the Trinity- Lord Balabhadra, Devi Subhadra and Lord Jagannath.

“She offered prayers to the deities standing alone near the ‘Bhitar Katha’ (inner cordon). She is a devotee of Lord Jagannath,” said Ramakrushna Dasmohapatra, her priest.

She witnessed ‘aarti’ while standing near Bhitar Katha. She also went to ‘Mukti Mandap’ (seat of religious pundits) and sought the blessings of the pundits there.

Later. she also visited the temple of Maa Laxmi and Maa Bimala in the temple premises while making a round of it.

The West Bengal Chief Minister stood at the ‘Pata Agana’ (a corridor near the main temple) to witness the ‘Bana Bandha’ (tying of flag) ritual during which the flag atop the 65 M high temple is changed every day. “She offered a 14-haath flag to the Lord praying for the wellbeing of all,” the priest said. One haath is 1.5 feet.

Local police in plainsclothes provided security to her and no one was allowed to go close to her. The devotees were, however, allowed to enter the temple and have ‘darshan’ of the deities when Banerjee was inside the temple.

The Shree Jagannath Temple Administration presented a wooden idol of Lord Jagannath to her.

 “A lot of people from Bengal come to Shree Jagannath Temple here every year. The Bengalis have a great bond with the Lord. You have cooperated us and I am indebted to you all. Keep happy,” Mamata told Media waiting outside the temple.