The famous hill shrine of Lord Venkateswara near Tirupati is all set for a six-day ritual, held once in 12 years, beginning today during which only 30,000 devotees would be allowed per day, under one third of the regular influx.
The 'Astabandhana Balalaya Mahasamprokshanam', would begin after 9 pm when the high priests would undertake minor structural repairs inside the sanctum of the 2,000-year old temple and other sub-shrines, an official of the Tirumala Tirupati Devasthanam (TTD), which administers the cash-rich shrine, said.
In view of the ceremony, issuance of all online 'seva' tickets, including for pre-dawn rituals and privileged worships, have been suspended till August 16, TTD Public Relations Officer T Ravi told PTI.
On an average, only 30,000 devotees would be allowed into the shrine daily, to be regulated during the few hours when the priests temporarily halt their work, he said.
During the ritual, high priests plug minor cracks and holes using a herbal paste harder than the concrete mix, amid chanting of Vedic hymns, Mr Ravi added.
During the mid-August period, usually about one lakh pilgrims visit the temple, which attracts devotees from across the country all through the year.
The TTD had earlier announced a complete ban on entry of devotees during the six days, but facing flak from devotees and nudged by Andhra Pradesh Chief Minister N Chandrababu Naidu, it later decided to allow 30,000 pilgrims per day.