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Published on Sunday, November 21, 2010 at 09:48 Hrs. IST

Ratotsavam is an annual feature that normally comes as a forerunner to the grand Birthday Celebrations of Bhagawan Sri Sathya Sai Baba. ..And ever since its inception many years ago, this festivity has been a fixed schedule for the 18th November. For so many years, this day had been tagged with another big event, Narayana Seva, en mass for the villagers in and around Puttaparthi, where in Bhagawan would present Himself through and through, along with hundreds of University students and sevadal volunteers, held at the Vidyagiri Sports Stadium.

This morning, at around 1015 hrs. the procession began from the bhajan hall with the idols, mainly Venugopala Swami idol, were taken out to be mounted on the main chariot stationed outside the main gopuram gate. The idols were taken out in a procession with the escort of Vedam and Bhajans by group of students from Sri Sathya Sai Institute of Higher Learning.

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Upon mounting the idols on the chariot, coconuts were broken and arathi was offered before the procession continued with great religious fervour attended by students and hundreds of villagers. The ecstatic mood of the village folk dancing to the tune of drumbeats, breaking coconuts and offering arathi enroute, is evidential of the religious fervour attached to the festive occasion.

The Venugopala Swami idol was mounted at the Pedda Venkama Raju Kalyanamandapa before return procession commenced, carrying the Sita Rama idols, a custom that has been in place ever since the Chariot Festival began in Parthi.