Hyderabad: A five-day `Ayutha Chandi Maha Yagam` began on Wednesday at Telangana Chief Minister K Chandrashekhar Rao`s farmhouse near here amid elaborate security arrangements.
Priests from Telangana, Andhra Pradesh and five other states began chanting hymns around 108 `homagundams` (sacred fire pits) after performing religious rituals.
Albeit the Chief Minister has said that the no government funds have been used for the December 23-27 event, a farmer's family feels disappointed by the state government.
According to reports, about Rs 6-7 crore have been spent on the mega religious ritual in the state which has declared 50 percent of its blocks as drought hit.
Nalla Kishtaiah, who could not face debtors or his own family after losing his crop on two successive seasons, had committed suicide in September in Pirlapally village, almost 10 km from the yagam venue.
As shown on NDTV, Kishtaiah's son said: "As the chief minister, he should help families like us who are really suffering. Did he not promise homes and pensions? We have neither of that''.
Under fire over the extravaganza, the Telangana CM has said that all the expenses for the ritual are being borne by him with the support of his friends.
"Not even a rupee is being spent from the public exchequer," he said in response to opposition criticism that he was wasting public money.
Meanwhile, opposition BJP disapproved of the "exorbitant splurge of money and misusing government machinery for a personal event", though it supported performing "yagnas and yagas" for the larger public good.
"BJP demands that the expenditure involved in laying roads to KCR farmhouse, security and logistics should also be borne by the Chief Minister," Telangana BJP spokesperson Krishna Sagar Rao said.
CPI(M) in Telangana charged that the 'yagam' being performed by the Chief Minister is against the Constitution as it promotes superstition among the people.
"It is false when Rao said he is bearing the expenditure himself. Officials of different departments are supervising the work. The expenditure of helicopters and cars...are they being borne by him? People need to know these things," CPI(M) Telangana said in a statement.
Who will attend mega ritual in Telangana?
As many as 40,000 people, including celebrities, public representatives, industrialists and others, have been invited by the Chief Minister for the event.
President Pranab Mukherjee, the governors of Tamil Nadu and Maharashtra, Andhra Pradesh Chief Minister N Chandrababu Naidu, central and state ministers, MPs, two judges of the Supreme Court and other VVIPs are expected to participate. President Mukherjee would visit the place on December 27.
Tamil Nadu Governor K Rosaiah, Maharashtra Governor C Vidyasagar Rao, and Union Ministers M Venkaiah Naidu and Bandaru Dattatreya would attend the event on different days.
Andhra Pradesh Chief Minister N Chandrababu Naidu would attend the yagam on December 27, the release said.