Puri: President of India, Droupadi Murmu, an ardent devotee of Lord Jagannath who hails from a tribal community in Mayurbhanj district sat down on ground to have Mahaprasad along with her daughter.
Gajapati Dibyasingha Deb and Maharani joined in the ceremony along with other dignitaries at Raj Bhawan here after her Darshan of Trinity at Shree jagannath Temple, the Twelfth Century Shrine.
Earlier she walked down and touched the Aruna Stambha, the 16 -sided 34 feet tall monolithic chlorite stone pillar in front of the Lion’s Gate (Singhadwara) of the temple.
Shrimati Murmu knelt down at the Lion’s Gate as a mark of respect to the deity and entered the shrine after properly washing her feet like common devotees.
She touched all the 22 steps leading to the temple with her hands as a sign of her devotion to the deities, her family priest Raj Ratan Mahapatra said.
She also knelt down before the sibling deities Lord Jagannath, Devi Subhadra and Lord Balaram in the sanctum sanctorum in obeisance.
On the way to the temple, Shrimati Murmu, who had worked as a teacher in the 1990s, reached out to the students of Utkal Hindi Vidyalaya waiting on the side of the Grand Road and mingled with them and their teachers. She was photographed with the children before proceeding towards the temple.
On her arrival at the Lion’s Gate, the president was welcomed by Gajapati Maharaja Dibya Singh Deb of Puri, the priests and government officers. Shri Deb presented a Patachitra painting to her on behalf of the temple.
“You are the first servitor of Lord Jagannath and is the living God,” Shrimati Murmu told Gajapati Maharaj when he expressed discomfort for being told ‘Namaste’ by the President.
“We accompanied President Shrimati Murmu to the sanctum sanctorum where she offered a diya (lamp) to the Lord and prayed for about 15 minutes,” the priest.
Shrimati Murmu, who was accompanied by her daughter Itishree, offered a ‘Tulsi’ garland to Lord Jagannath, another made of lotus at the Mahalaxmi temple and another of hibiscus flowers at the Maa Bimala temple, Shri Mahapatra said.
She wrote in Odia in the register book maintained by her family priest : “I feel fortunate for having darshan of Chaturdha Murti and gods and goddesses in the temple premises. I feel a rare bliss for having prayed to Lord Jagannath, who is the presiding deity of all Odias. Mahaprabhu is the ‘daru devata’ (god in tree wood) of tribals and God of the entire world. I pray before Him for the well being of the entire human kind. Let our country reach the peak of prosperity and development by the grace of Lord Jaganath. This is my wish.”
While leaving temple she garlanded the statue of Utkalmani Gopa Bandhu Das near the Lion’s Gate. It was installed by Mahatma Gandhi in 2034.
Shri Mahapatra said that Shrimati Murmu had visited the temple several times earlier when she was a councilor of Rairangpur notified area council, an MLA, a minister and the governor of Jharkhand.
“I had accompanied her on all those occasions. But this time she appeared to be soaked in spirituality and was highly emotional”, said the Priest.