Heat refuses to melt down piety as thousands hit Karaikal streets for mangani iraithal

As the car carrying the deity left the temple for the town around 10 am, the public tossed mangoes from either side of its trail, from terraces and balconies.
People catching mangoes tossed from terraces during the mangani iraithal event of Karaikal mangani thiruvizha on Friday
People catching mangoes tossed from terraces during the mangani iraithal event of Karaikal mangani thiruvizha on Friday (Photo | Antony Fernando)

KARAIKAL: Thousands thronged the streets of Karaikal, some as early as 8 am, not minding the wait under the scorching sun for the arrival of the idol of deity Sri Pitchandavar (Lord Shiva) from Kailasanathar temple taken around in a procession on Friday as part of mangani iraithal of the ongoing Karaikal mangani thiruvizha. As the deity passed through, the devotees dedicated the mangoes they carried with them by tossing them at it.

Others in the crowd revelled in the festivities by trying to get a hold of the fruits thrown. As the car carrying the deity left the temple for the town around 10 am, the public tossed mangoes from either side of its trail, from terraces and balconies. Many were visitors coming back for this year’s edition of the festival to make their offerings in gratitude for fulfilled prayers. As people of various age groups tried catching the tossed mangoes, several of the fruits fell into sewer drains. Others were squashed by waiting hands. The tossing and catching went on till evening when the cart reached Sri Karaikal Ammaiyar Temple.

An official said, "Over 60,000 people participated in the festival events collectively. Lakhs of mangoes might have been used during the festival." Laurent Jalicous, the director of Alliance Francaise de Pondicherry, who had come to witness the festival, said, "It is our first time witnessing such an incredible event. The festival and the culture are amazing to watch. We are grateful to the people of Karaikal for hosting us."

Gnana Muthukumaran, a document writer from Karaikal, said, "The festival is not merely an amusement but a reflection of people’s prayers and gratitude towards the Almighty.” As the mercury level soared during the day, the visitors were seen constantly reaching out for juice, soft drinks and ice cream to keep themselves hydrated. Several stalls serving annadhanam (food) and water were also set up by volunteers for the benefit of the devotees.

More than 300 policemen were deployed on ground for the festival. A separate mobile CCTC van laden with 13 AI-based cameras with facial recognition feature was also used for the first time. Meanwhile, municipality sanitary workers were kept on their toes as they went around clearing the wasted mangoes from the streets and the sewers.

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