Sambalpur (Orissa) Oct 2 (IANS) Mahatma Gandhi was worshipped as god by hundreds of people at an Orissa temple Monday as they lighted incense sticks, offered flowers and sang devotional songs before his idol.
Exclusively dedicated to Gandhi, the Gandhi Temple - as it is called - is located at Bhatra village in Sambalpur district, some 350 km from state capital Bhubaneswar.
The bronze idol of Gandhi, in a seated posture, is kept in the temple's sanctum sanctorum.
A large number of people visit the temple everyday to offer prayers, but on important national days like Gandhi Jayanti (Oct 2), Independence Day (Aug 15) and Republic Day (Jan 26), it attracts bigger crowds, district collector Vishal Gagan told IANS.
On Monday, hundreds of people of the village and from neighbouring Sambalpur town, as well as government officials, visited the temple to offer flowers.
Bhatra village has some 5,000 people with more than half belonging to the scheduled castes.
Abhimanyu Kumbhar, a former member of the state legislative assembly from the region, built the temple in 1974 with the help of local people.
Residents also offer flowers at the photographs of several other freedom fighters, including Netaji Subash Chandra Bose and Aurobindo Ghosh, at the temple.
Similar reverence for Gandhi was witnessed Monday at his statue in Panimora village, in Bargarh district, 410 km from Bhubaneswar.
Nearly every family of this village of about 1,000 people has a member who had joined in the country's freedom struggle. The village has five men living out of the 32 people imprisoned during Gandhi's Quit India movement in 1942.
At a statue of Gandhi at the village entrance, residents offered flowers, lit incense and prayed as they would before a temple deity.