Vijayawada Bishop Theelagathoti Joseph RajaRao and Rev Fr DavidRaju offer prayers on the first day of Gunadala MaryMatha Fest in Vijayawada on Friday
Vijayawada: The three-day annual festival of Gunadala Mary Matha began here on Friday with the reverends offering ceremonial holy mass at Bishop Grassi High School near the shrine.
Devotees from various parts of the country and abroad attended the holy mass conducted by Vijayawada Dioceses Bishop T Joseph Raja Rao and other religious heads. After seeking blessings of Mary Matha at Gunadala Church, many went up to the halfway of Gunadala Hill where the idol of Holy Mary was located, while others climbed further to the top and offered prayers at the Holy Cross atop the hill.
Monsignor M Prasad said that every year the festival was being celebrated from February 9 to 11 since decades. Lakhs of devotes visit the shrine to seek the blessings of Mother Mary.
He said that elaborate arrangements were made by the organisers. Devotees from Germany were seen at the festival on day one besides a number of pilgrims from neighbouring states of Telangana, Karnataka and Tamil Nadu.
Bishop T Joseph Raja Rao said all the devotees who visit the shrine would be blessed. He said that holy mass would be held continuously for all the three days. Arrangements were made for the devotees who stay till the festival concludes and who offer hair.
Father Nakka David Raj, who completed 25 years of service for the mission as priest, was the chief priest at the commencement of the three-day fest. He was honoured on the occasion and a CD was released.
With the cooperation of the Vijayawada Municipal Corporation, sanitation, drinking water facility, tents for the pilgrims to take rest and toilet arrangements were made on the premises. Special buses were run by APSRTC. Besides, the railways also arranged halts for express and passenger trains at Gunadala, Ramavarappadu and Madhura Nagar stations.
The city police made elaborate arrangements to regulate traffic to avoid inconvenience to the pilgrims attending the festival. Police, municipal corporation, revenue, Transco and other district officials reviewed the facilities arranged for the devotees.