THIRUVANANTHAPURAM: The various government departments should ensure timely completion of all pre-arrangements in view of Attukal pongala, Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan has said. He was reviewing the arrangements for the festival in a meeting held near the temple on Tuesday. “The LSG should ensure that clean roads and stretches are made available for devotees to conduct the ritual and the officials should ensure basic amenities including mobile toilets for the devotees coming from other districts and states”, Vijayan said.
According to Devaswom Minister, Kadakampally Surendran, the arrangements have been completed. He said the government had given prime consideration to cleanliness. “Steps have been taken to ensure availability of drinking water for devotees. Hence the departments are effectively coordinating to prevent any flaws in arrangements”, Surendran said. Mayor V K Prasanth said that the corporation has completed the deployment of scavengers. “The PWD works at 22 wards have been completed.
The green protocol will be followed. The re-installation of street lights are underway”, Prasanth informed.
As many as 1,260 public taps and 50 showers for women have been arranged. Water tankers from other taluks will be deployed in the city during the festival. KSRTC and the railways will conduct special services for the pilgrims.
In a bid to ensure the security of the pilgrims, the government has decided to deploy 3,600 police personnel. Of this, more than half will be women officers. The Health Department will deploy special squads and install temporary health care facilities at the venue. The Kerala State Pollution Control Board will deploy special squads to monitor noise pollution.
Temple festival begins
Thousands of devotees thronged Attukal Devi Temple on Tuesday morning to offer prayers, on the first day of the Attukal Pongala festival. The festival started with the temple tantri handing over the sword of the goddess to the temple priest after embellishing the idol with bangles (‘kappu’) as part of the traditional ritual of ‘kappukettu’, which was held at 10.30 am. ‘Chendamelam’ and ‘Panchavadyam’ added more fervour to the crescendo of prayers.
From early morning itself, many devotees arrived at the temple for a hassle-free ‘darshan’. Special arrangements have been made by the Temple Trust for the convenience of devotees. The Pongala offering ritual, the largest congregation of women in the world, will be held on February 20, the ninth day of the festival. The festival will conclude on February 21. Actor Mammootty was the chief guest on the first day of the programme.