Much before daybreak on Thursday, devotees from Guntur and neighbouring districts queued up at Trikoteswara Swamy shrine at Kotappakonda near Narsaraopet in Guntur district to have darshan of the deity and perform ‘abhishekam’, while hundreds of tastefully decorated tableaux arrived at the foothill.
Politicians, cutting across party lines, appreciated the government’s gesture to recognise the celebrations here as a State festival as this is a popular Shiva temple, with a unique feature of decorated Prabhas (tableaux) brought to the foothill with a belief steeped in mythology that Trikoteswara Swamy would come down to earth if “one crore and one prabhas” were brought there.
While the day-long ‘archanas’ and offering prayers continued at the picturesque hill-top temple, devotees gathered in lakhs at the festivities at the foot hill with a large fair offering an array of games for children, entertainment for the adults, cultural programmes for the religious minded, hundreds of temporary shops selling everything under the sky, from electronic goods to balloons.
Since carrying a pair of sugarcane stems back home is a ritual, they were in great demand.
Cultural programmes did not have the ‘record dances’ as a majority of the identified dancers were put on house arrest by the district police so that they did not participate in the nude shows during these dances.
While 2 lakhs to 3 lakhs people visited the temple, an equal number of devotees remained at the foothill to enjoy the fair.
A stream of devotees thronged the Kotappakonda chanting the `Hara Hara Mahadeva’ mantra en route the bottom of the hill by all possible modes of transport on Wednesday.
While the devotees made a beeline right from the early hours with special pujas beginning from 3 a.m., the district administration, Police and the Endowments department left nothing to make the pilgrimage to the hill shrine a memorable one.
The Minister for Health, Kodela Sivaprasada Rao, offered the first pooja by carrying `prabhas’ (special lamp) from Yelamanda and Purushottapatnam attracting the attention of the people.
The Superintendent of Police, Ravi Shankar Ayyannar, along with the District Collector, K. Ramakrishna Rao, camped there to streamline the arrangements and to ensure that nothing went wrong.
Among the VIPs visiting the temple included the Congress leader, Daggubati Venkateswara Rao, and the District Judge, M. Venkateswara Reddy.
Come Mahasivaratri, it is time for devotees to throng temples of Lord Siva. Almost all the Shaivite temples witness heavy influx of pilgrims during this festival necessitating additional arrangements to cater to the needs of the swelling crowds. The Sri Trikoteswara Swamy temple at Kotappakonda, under Narasaraopet mandal of Guntur district, is one such place which attracts a large number of people during the festival.
To boost the temple’s image, the authorities have introduced various sevas for devotees like
- a lifetime `abhishekham’ for those offering Rs. 1116
- a lifetime `ashtothram’ for an offering of Rs. 558
- annadanam’ for Rs. 1,116 and above.
The accommodation for pilgrims is taken care of by the Tirumala Tirupati Devasthanams’ Anandavalli guest house and Nandi guest house. The Road Transport Corporation authorities in Guntur district will press into service an additional 330 buses to Kotappakonda, 47 to Amaravathi, 59 to Srisailam, 64 to Govada, 35 to Quari, 30 to Sathrasala, 12 to Manepalli, five to Thripurantakam, four to Pedakakani and three buses to Tsundur during the three-day festival celebrations, according to the Regional Manager, P.V.D.Jayashankar Prasad.