Latur is not renowned as a spiritual sanctuary. It is, perhaps, most widely recognised for the 1993 earthquake that claimed over 30,000 lives here.
But yesterday, the people of Latur city were praying as one for the well-being of their illustrious son — union minister and former Maharashtra CM Vilasrao Deshmukh.
Even as the Maratha strongman continues to battle for his life at a Chennai hospital, prayers and yagnas were being held across his hometown, many organised by Congress leaders.
Mayor Smita Khanapure, who was trotting around with an entourage of nearly a dozen corporators, was spotted at many of the religious ceremonies in different parts of the city. Similarly, district president of Congress Venkat Bendre was also busy lining up yagnas, mahabhisheks, poojas and various other rituals for the welfare of Deshmukh.
Fate v/s faith
It wasn’t just the netas who were looking skywards. For instance, a mahamrityunjay puja was organised by the association of grocery shop owners. A massive gathering of religious leaders was also witnessed at the town hall.
When we asked the mayor whether all these spiritual sojourns weren’t affecting her day’s business, she said, “While I am attending pujas that doesn’t mean I have overlooked my work. I am attending meetings at the municipal office too. So, I am juggling both – the meetings (work), and also the pujas for my leader.”
Venkat Bendre said some erroneous news reports had disturbed Deshmukh’s well-wishers, and then they started organising these pujas.
“Already Vilasrao’s condition is improving. We are sure the prayers of lakhs of people of Latur would not go unheard,” he said.