It was a combination of work and worship for chief minister Yogi Adityanath, who is also the mahant or chief priest of the Gorakhnath temple, in Gorakhpur during the Shardiya Navratri dedicated to Goddess Durga.
Adityanath camped at the temple between October 5 and 9, performing a series of Hindu rituals on Navratri as the chief priest, while executing his work as the chief minister of India’s most populous state too.
He arrived here on Saturday after inaugurating Ram Katha (discourse on Ram) by the noted preacher Murari Bapu at Champa Devi Park. After that, he went to the Gorakhnath temple, where he confined himself to the upper floor, performing puja at the Shakti temple in accordance with a religious practice followed by successive mahants of the temple, which is a prominent centre of faith for lakhs of Hindus in eastern Uttar Pradesh.
Adityanath observed nine days’ fast while worshipping different Hindu gods and goddesses on different days of Navratri at the temple premises under tight security cover. However, devotees, leaders and political figures who came to seek his blessing as the temple head were given easy access.
Earlier, other rituals, including Kalash Sthapna marking the start of Navratri, were performed by Yogi Kamal Nath, the principal priest of the temple.
“Even after becoming chief minister, Yogi Adityanath has been discharging his duty as mahant of this temple,” said Dwarika Tiwari, a 75-year-old temple clerk.
Adityanath performed Kanya Pujan on Navami (October 7) wherein he worshipped nine girls as nine manifestations of the Goddess Durga, washed their feet and then bade adieu to them by offering dakshina (money).
This ritual was preceded by Ashtmi puja or the eighth day of Navratri in which he performed yajna and later offered symbolic sacrifice of edible items.
On Dashami on Tuesday, the chief minister emerged from the first floor of the temple and sat in a hall where he participated in tilak utsav where he and the devotees greeted one another by applying tilak on their foreheads.
Tilak Utsav was followed by a grand procession taken out from the main entrance of the temple with drumbeats and sound of conch shells.
A large number of devotees marched as the special motor- driven saffron chariot of Adityanath moved along. The processionists raised slogans like ‘Jai Shri Ram’, ‘Shri Ram Janmbhoomi Ki Jai’, ‘Shri Krishna Bhoomi Ki Jai’, Mahant Digvijaynath , Mahant Avaidyanath Amar rahein. The procession concluded at Man Sarovar Ram Lila, where the chief minister performed aarti and applied tilak on those portraying the characters of Ram and Lakshman.
IN COURT OF SAINTS
In a little known but interesting ritual associated with Shardiya Navratri, Adityanath acted as dand adhikari or judge in a court of saints held at the temple on Dashami.
The dand adhikari settled disputes among the saints and awarded punishment if anyone was found guilty of violating rules, said Dwarika Tiwari, a temple official.
The practice is meant to ensure discipline among the followers of the Nath sect saints.
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