IN the strongest possible sign so far that they are heading for wedlock, actors Abhishek Bachchan and Aishwarya Rai together performed `pujas’ inside two famous temples in the city on Monday.
All through the day, this temple town remained abuzz with rumours about exchange of engagement rings between the two at Sankat Mochan temple and the priests fixing the wedding date in February next year.
This was for the first time that Aishwarya accompanied the Bachchan family to Varanasi. They performed two pujas – one inside the Kashi Vishwanath temple and the other at Sankat Mochan temple. Apart from Abhishek and Aishwarya, those present included Amitabh Bachchan, wife Jaya, daughter Shweta, brother Ajitabh and his daughter Namrata and Samajwadi Party general secretary Amar Singh.
They reached the Kashi Vishwanath temple in the wee hours to take part in Mangla Aarti amid unprecedented security arrangements. After spending about two hours there, they then left for Sankat Mochan Temple at 4.40 am and offered prayers.
About 70 pandits, including some acharyas, participated in the puja rituals for the two families. “As many as 51 pandits performed the chanting of `Naugrah’ mantras,” Sridhar Pandey, a priest who participated in the ceremony inside the Sankat Mochan temple, told Hindustan Times.
“The Naugrah mantras are chanted for cooling all nine grahas,” maintained Rama Shanker Tiwari, another priest.
Another priest said these pujas helped in clearing hurdles in any affair
All through the rituals, Aishwarya sat close to Abishekh (on his left to be precise) inside the `mandap’.
When the rituals came to a close, Aishwarya embraced Jaya Bachchan and left the venue. The family then left the temple town for Mumbai. Abhishek, however, went to Agra for shooting of his film.
Chandramauli Upadiyay, a member of the Kashiv Vishwanth Temple Trust, said these were routine pujas. He, however, said Naugrah mantras were also performed for Abhishek and Aishwarya. It may be mentioned that today also happened to be the 99th birth anniversary of late Harivansh Rai Bachchan.
Interestingly, another Bollywood actress Rani Mukherjee, who has featured with the junior Bachchan in a number of movies and is said to be close to the Bachchan family, was conspicuous by her absence during the rituals. She is at present in the city shooting of Pradeep Sarkar’s movie.