The statue of Lord Buddha in Lumbini.

Mohit Dubey, IANS

Lumbini (Nepal), May 4 (IANS) Hundreds and thousands of people from Nepal and neighbouring India flocked to the birth place of Lord Buddha on Monday to pray for safety and peace in the earthquake-devastated country on the occasion of Buddha Poornima.

Dressed in colourful attire and accompanied by friends and relatives, men and women carried incense sticks and flowers in their hands as they made a beeline to the temple that holds the remains of the 2nd and 3rd century BC structures where Buddha was born.

Heavy security arrangements had been made and people, owing to the large crowds, were forced to stand and wait in the harsh sun on the tiled floor. Security personnel were moving the crowds in a disciplined way and guiding them into the dimly-lit room where a footprint of Lord Buddha on a rock has been preserved under a glass cubicle.

Arjita, a local from Bhirhawa said that she had come to pray with her friends for peace and safety.

“The recent earthquake has scared us no ends, we hope by the blessings of Lord Buddha calm will return to our nation,” Arjita told IANS.

Security guard San Bhagat Neupane said that the crowds had swelled in the past few days, apparently due to the fear instilled in the people due to the April 25 temblor.

“The last we had so much crowd was when the Nepalese new year started on Sankrant a few weeks back,” he said while informing that on routine days the footfall was between 2,000-3000.

On Monday, the number, a senior staffer Sunil Kumar Pradhan said, was more than 100,000.

To attend on the large number of crowds and to control them, Armed Police Force (APF) personnel had also been deployed.

B. Chand of the APF told IANS that the locals had a great deal of belief in Lord Buddha and “usually they were calm and disciplined while in the temple premises”.

A local shopkeeper also informed that while tremors were felt in the town on April 25, not much damage has been done. Hotels and resort owners and staffers inform that tourism has not been affected as such.

“There was minor drop in the number of visitors initially but now things are back to normal” says a road side vendor selling small figurines of Lord Buddha.

The death toll from the April 25 disaster on Monday surged to 7,365 with more than 14,000 people injured.