Mumbai: As soon as Sagar Waghmare, 23, reached Mumbai from Pune, he stood in line for darshan at Chaityabhumi. At around 5.30am Tuesday, the line ended somewhere near Worli. Till afternoon, Mr Waghmare was yet to take darshan but he was still upbeat.
On Tuesday, the Chaityabhoomi-Shivaji Park precinct swarmed with followers of Bharat Ratna Dr Babasaheb Ambedkar as it was his 66th Mahaparinirvan Diwas. The late leader was cremated at Chaityabhoomi. As one neared the place, one could hear the soothing sound of Bhuddham-Sharnam-Gachchami being played.
“I have been coming here for the past few years except for the Covid period. I make it a point to take darshan. He has done so much that I feel indebted towards him,” said Mr Waghmare. Another follower Rohit Surve from Thane said, “Babasaheb taught us to educate ourselves. He is an icon for us. I look forward to appearing for the UPSC.”
While both the youngsters stood for hours to reach Chaityabhoomi, some were just happy to have reached there. “It's not possible to take a darshan today because it's very crowded. We feel that people who come from far away are given a chance. I can take darshan later as I stay in Kalwa. What's important for us is to touch this precinct that is associated with him,” said Rekha Kedar who had come with her mother.
Several lakh people of all age groups converged to the area from state interiors and across India with the feeling of indebtedness towards the historic leader. “He sacrificed so much for us. We feel that we should come to Chaityabhoomi on this day at least,” said Lata Gautam who had come from Uttar Pradesh.
The annual event also witnessed distribution of books besides refreshments. “We are giving this pocket booklet of Panchasheel in Pali. It gives Lord Buddha's prayers, recitals and commandments,” said Vinod Tambe, Trustee of Boudha Samaj Seva Sangh. Notably, the Maharashtra Government had put up a special stall with a list of Dr Ambedkar's 41 books.
The followers also didn't forget how the late leader laid special emphasis on gaining education. “I am pursuing my Masters and Baba asked that we educate ourselves,” said Buddharatna Kedare who had come from Bhusawal to take darshan and buy books.
Some of the Ambedkarites marked the day with social service. “Since I live in Mumbai and can take darshan anytime, I spend the day guiding people and managing crowd. This way I feel I have done something for what Babasaheb lived for,” said Ashwin Kanekar of Aamhi Ambedkarvadi group.
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