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Loud shrieks punctuate somber atmosphere

The wail of a five-year- old girl punctuates the somber atmosphere that gripped the 15th century Hindu temple where devotees had gathered early on Tuesday on the occasion of holy Navaratra.

india Updated: Sep 30, 2008 17:17 IST

"Daddy, please wake up". "Daddy, please wake up".

The wail of a five-year- old girl punctuates the somber atmosphere that gripped the 15th century Hindu temple where devotees had gathered early on Tuesday on the occasion of holy Navaratra.

Little knowing that her father has died in one of the worst-ever stampedes in Rajasthan in recent years, the girl kept crying "Papa utho, papa utho... (Daddy, please wake up...)" next to the motionless body.

Tragedy struck the Chamunda Temple when a stampede occurred causing heavy casualty.

Chamunda is the "kul devi" of Rao Jodha, the former king of Jodhpur, who brought her idol in 1460 and installed it in the Mehrangarh Fort.
The girl had come to the temple with her father to seek blessings of the goddess, considered to be the presiding deity of the place, on the occasion of Navaratri festival.

Eyewitnesses said panic was triggered when some devotees slipped on a slope from the temple premises situated on a hill top.

Chants of hymns by pilgrims going to the temple early in the morning soon gave way to loud wails and within minutes a pall of gloom descended on the entire area.

Heaps of bodies lay in the temple premises and volunteers were seen carrying them to the nearby hospitals for postmortem examination.