The five-day mega religious ritual organised by Telangana Chief Minister K Chandrasekhar Rao for universal peace and people's welfare drew to a close today in the presence of his Andhra Pradesh counterpart N Chandrababu Naidu. The 'Ayutha Chandi Maha Yagam', which began on December 23 at Rao's farmhouse at Erravelli village in Medak district, around 75km from here, involved non-stop chanting of mantras on all days besides devotional programmes, including bhajans and 'harikatha' (recital of religious stories). On the first day, Rao undertook a circumambulation of the 'yagashala' before performing 'Garu Prarthana' in front of the idol of 'Chandi Matha', marking the beginning of the event. As many as 1,100 rithviks (priests), assisted by juniors, performed a slew of rituals at 101 'homagundams' (sacred fire pits) and recited 'veda mantras' several thousand times during the ceremony. Governor of Telangana and Andhra Pradesh E S L Narasimhan, Union Ministers M Venkaiah Naidu, Bandaru Dattatreya and Sujana Choudhary, Maharashtra Governor Vidyasagar Rao, his Tamil Nadu counterpart K Rosaiah and NCP President Sharad Pawar were among several dignitaries and spiritual leaders who attended the event on different days. Naidu attended the final day of the 'yagam'. The event had earlier drawn sharp criticism from Opposition BJP and CPI(M), which accused Rao of misusing Government machinery and wasting public money. Telangana CPI(M) alleged that the 'yagam' was against the Constitution as it promoted superstition among people. Rao had claimed no Government money was being spent on the event. The Chief Minister had said, "It is purely my own yagam.
Some of my friends are supporting it. I am spending money from my own account. Not a single naya paisa from Government will be used for it." The stated objective of the ceremony was to promote universal peace and people's welfare.