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Deoghar: As the temple town prepares to rant with loud calls of ‘bol bam’ and ‘har har mahadev’ on the first day of shravan on Wednesday, residents and administrative officials on Tuesday had to contend with torrential rains while preparing for the holy month.As a steady influx of pilgrims from Uttar Pradesh, Bihar and West Bengal enter the town, the district administration is in the process of reviewing and ensuring security arrangements to prevent a stampede-like situation that left a dark cloud over festivites last year.

The Baidyanath shrine witnessed pilgrims offering prayers on the eve of Guru Purnima, while police and paramilitary forces prepare to manage the 60,000-odd devotees expected on the first day.
A visit to some of the shops that surround the temple premises and one can find freshly-prepared pedas stacked up. Inside, personnel of the 106th battalion of rapid action force (RAF) carry away parts of argha (the makeshift structure first used last year to enable devotees to offer water to the deity from a distance) for installation. Ramesh Kumar Parihasta, manager of the temple committee, said rituals will commence at 3am on Wednesday, which includes ‘ shoroshapchar’ by the chief priest, followed by ‘sarkari puja’. “The doors for darshan will be opened after the rituals,” he said.

The halt for kanwariyas in Dumma, 10 kilometres away and on the Bihar-Jharkhand border, on Tuesday saw the congregation of four state cabinet ministers, including urban development minister C P Singh, agriculture minister Randhir Singh, tourism minister Amar Bauri and labour minister Raj Paliwar. The ministers inaugurated an array of services for devotees. None of the ministers, including local MP Nishikant Dubey, opted for ‘darshan’ by queuing up with other devotees, since chief minister Raghubar Das ordered to scrap VIP darshan.

While two companies of RAF were deployed in and around the temple premises, Deoghar police has commissioned the setting up of 14 police outposts for holy month. “Six traffic outposts are operational for the mela,” Deoghar SP Vijay Laxmi said. About 2,000 policemen from across the district will man these posts under a DSP rank officer on a rotational basis, the SP said.

Charu Sharma arrived from Ranipur in UP, Nilip Chandra Das from Raiganj in North Bengal.