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Sunita's village prays for her safe return
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June 22, 2007 17:07 IST

Villagers from where the Pandya family of Sunita Williams hails are praying for the safe return of the Indian-American astronaut.

The people of Jhulasan in Mehasana's Kadi taluka have been praying, holding 'yagnas'.

They have also been maintaining a round-the-clock 'diya' for last eight days, village sarpanch Dinesh M said.

Sunita's father Deepak Pandya hails from this village and is settled in the United States after studying in Ahmedabad and Surat, the villager said.

Ever since the villagers learnt about the space shuttle Atlantis suffering damage more than seven days ago, people of the village started offering prayers and offered a special 'aarti' in the temple located in the village, he said.

Vitthal Pandya, Sunita's uncle living in Ahmedabad said Sunita, born on September 19, 1965, has visited Gujarat thrice and is very eager to visit again.

Ambalal Prajapati Principal of C P Gajjar High School in the village said about 750 students have been holding prayers every day for her safe return.

Bakulesh Gupta chairman of Urmi and Gujarat Public School located in the city said since the beginning of the academic session in the school, students have been holding continuous prayers and are eager to meet Sunita during her visit to Gujarat.

Chayaben Pandya, Williams' cousin, said that the family's faith in god would ensure Williams touched down safely. "Even famous singer Lata Mangeshkar [Images] has prayed for her safe return, and god will answer all the prayers," she said today.

The relatives are awaiting Williams' next visit to India, the fourth one, and plan to take her around various places, including Saurashtra, Dwarka, Somnath and Harebhai, to offer prayers.

"We are planning to take her to educational institutions also as that will be a motivation for many students," she said.

The fishermen of the village would offer mid-sea prayers while on fishing, said Veljibhai Masani, president, Indian Fishermen Association.

Prayers were on in other parts of state like Godhra, Anand and Dohad also, reports said.

Further, celebrations are waiting to explode in Jhulasan once the Atlantis made a safe return.

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