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Sambalpur: Visitors thronged the Gandhi temple at Bhatra in Odisha's Sambalpur district on the occasion of the 150th birth anniversary of Mahatma Gandhi on Wednesday.

They offered flowers to the bronze idol of the Father of the Nation and sang devotional songs before it.

Several social organisations garlanded the idol.

Since the temple's establishment in 1974 by former MLA Abhimanyu Kumar, residents of Bhatra, which is located near Sambalpur, congregate at the premises daily to offer morning and evening prayers while the priest recites the Gita and the 'Ram Dhun'.

Kumar said he was inspired by Mahatma Gandhi's speech at Sambalpur in 1932.

"He is a mahapurush (colossus). His speech had inspired me to build the temple," Kumar said.

While the foundation was laid in 1971, it took three years to complete the construction of the temple, he said.

Priest Radhakanta Bag said the temple attracts visitors from all walks of life.

"Residents of Bhatra preach the teachings of Mahatma Gandhi to the younger generation," he said.

Antaryami Panigrahi, a visitor, said he visits the temple every Gandhi Jayanti and Shahid Diwas (January 30).

"The residents of Bhatra don't wait for any occasion to worship Gandhiji. People from near and far also visit the temple," he said.

Another visitor, Sanjit Mohanty, said, "I consider Mahatma Gandhi a divine person. His sacrifice and humility are unparalleled and cannot be followed by an ordinary person. He is an incarnation of God and should be worshipped."

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