Imphal, Aug. 24: “Dad, are the flowers going to explode?” Laxmi Devi wanted to know as she inched closer to the decorated stage for Rasa Lila inside Imphal’s Iskcon temple complex.
“No, darling. Nothing will happen. They are not bombs, but beautiful flowers,” said her father, Ajita Dasa.
“Are you sure, dad, they will not explode?” she asked again.
Laxmi was just one year and eight months old when a blast rocked the temple complex during Janmastami celebrations two years ago.
But the toddler remembered enough to retain the episode as one of fright.
Six persons, including four children, were killed in the attack by suspected militants during the Rasa Lila performance. Fifty others were injured.
The Okram Ibobi Singh government constituted a special investigation team, but the culprits are still at large.
"My daughter was with her mother when the bomb exploded. A woman standing next to my wife and daughter was hit, but my family miraculously escaped," Dasa, who is the president of Imphal Iskcon temple, said.
"She is yet to recover from the shock."
But he coaxed her to visit the temple and watch Rasa Lila today. As Dasa walked around overseeing the arrangements, Luxmi sat on a mat and watched artistes get ready for Rasa Lila.
Like last year, the government made an elaborate security arrangement at the Iskcon temple today.
A huge number of CRPF, Assam Rifles, India Reserve Battalion, armed police personnel and homeguards were deployed, who frisked every person entering the temple complex. “We do not want to take chances,” a senior police officer said.
This year not a single devotee from abroad and any other part of the country came to Manipur for Ras Lila.
The programmes began early in the morning with a blood donation camp organised in collaboration with the Regional Institute of Medical Sciences in memory of the six persons who died in the 2006 blast.
A symposium for schoolchildren on Value of Life in the Context of the Present Turmoil in the Society was also organised by the temple authorities.
That was followed by the main Rasa Lila programme, which included a recital of Marifat (communion with the divine) by a four-member Muslim troupe.