Aluva: Thousands of Hindu devotees thronged the banks of the Periyar river here from the wee hours of today on the occasion of Karkidaka Vavubali to pay homage to their ancestors. Balitharpanam, the act of paying obeisance to the ancestors, began at the special platforms (balithara) from 4 am on Wednesday. Numerous devotees have also thronged the beach at Papanasam in Varkala too, further south, in Thiruvanathapuram district.
The Devaswom Board has set up a balithara besides the 110 balitharas auctioned off to the priests at Aluva. The devotees would be charged Rs 75 to perform the rituals.
The preparations for the traditional event which began around a week ago were over by Tuesday evening. Iron barricades have been installed at the bathing ghats where the water is deep. The devotees shouldn’t go beyond these barricades to take the ceremonial dip. The water level in the river is currently lower than the bathing ghats.
The ghats have been cleaned by pumping water through hoses.
Two high mast lamps and countless tube lights have been installed to light up the Manappuram, the sandy banks of the river. Generators too have been arranged to ensure uninterrupted power supply.
KP Sivadas, a member of the Dewasom Board, oversaw the preparations.
Head priest Mullappally Sankaran Nampoothiri is leading the rituals.
The balitharpanam rituals weren’t held here in 2016 and 2018 as the Manappuram was flooded.
New leaves sprout on Banyan
The banyan sapling at the althara (banyan tree base) has sprouted new leaves, offering a beautiful sight to the devotees who throng the Manappuram. The 55-year-old banyan tree, which stood here had begun decaying and was cut down before the Sivarathri festival, citing securing reasons. The chief priest at the temple here had ordered so.
The Dewasom Board didn’t plant another banyan sapling here; neither was the stump of the old tree removed.
However, the devotees who thronged the Manappuram for the Sivarathri festival had planted a sapling and it is now growing inside the cage. According to the legends, the banyan tree at the Manappuram has special significance. It is believed that Lord Rama and his brother Laxman had conducted the obeisance rituals for Jatayu, below the banayan tree at the Aluva Manappuram. It is also said that the place got its name, Aluva, from a banyan tree that was planted near the Mahadeva Temple here. by the great Bhakti poet Viswamangalam Swamiyar.
Traffic regulations are on in the Aluva town today from 4 am to 12 pm. Police personnel have been deployed at all the busy spots in the city including the railway station. The Aluva Manappuram would be entirely under CCTV surveillance.
The devotees are advised to carry their identity cards when they come for the balitharpanam rituals.
Vehicles will not be allowed to enter the Manappuram from Thottakattukara and Paravur Kavala.
Parking has been banned on both sides of the roads including the national highway.
The private buses coming to Aluva from Ernakulam should take a turn from the Pulinchod Junction and enter the bus stand through Karothukuzhi Junction. The buses should take the Pump Junction route while returning.
The KSRTC buses to Ernakulam should turn left and take the Karothukavala Junction.
The private buses coming from Perumbavoor should reach the bus stand via Karothukavala Junction. They should take the Pump Junction route while returning.
Traffic has been banned between Bank Junction and MG Town Hall. Private vehicles too wouldn’t be allowed to take this route.
Ferry services in the Periyar River have been cancelled.
The police department has arranged ambulance services. The Manappuram would be strictly under police surveillance.
Varkkala gets ready for Karkidaka vavubali
Varkala: Balitharpanam rituals are on at the Papanasam Beach here. The preparations at the Janardhanaswamy Temple and the bali mandapam were over by yesterday. The devotees can perform the obeisance rituals from early morning on Wednesday to Thursday morning.
More than 200 devotees can simultaneously perform the rituals at the bali mandapam set up by the Dewasom Board. More than 100 priests are leading the rituals at the Papanasam Beach. Special counters have been set up at the beach and the temple for issuing receipts for the rituals and to book special poojas as well.
The temple officials have decided to open the temple pond for the devotees as it has been cleaned by clearing the water weeds.
More than 600 police personnel have been deployed to ensure the security of the devotees. Lifeguards and diving experts are on high alert on the beach and near the pond here.
KSRTC buses would run extra services from various depots.
Traffic control at Papanasam
Anticipating heavy turnout of devotees for the Karkidaka vavubali, traffic curbs are on at many places till 8 am on Thursday.
The buses that come from the Kallambalam and Kadakkavoor areas to Papanasam should take the Maithanam–Punnamoodu, Kairali Nagar route to reach Altharamoodu. The passengers have to be dropped and boarded here before returning via Maithanam. Small vehicles should take the Maithanam route and drop passengers at the Hospital Junction before parking at Perinkulam.
Parking facilities have been arranged at the ground behind the bus stop and also in the ground near Dhanya Supermarket. Tourist and mini busses should drop the passengers at the ground and park at the municipality bus stand. If the parking areas at Perinkulam and Maithanam are filled, then the small vehicles would be diverted through Punnamoodu for parking at the NSS Karayogam School ground and also in the parking lot at Watcher Mukku. Vehicles could be parked at the small ground near it as well.
If all these parking spaces are filled, the vehicles should reach Anjumukku via Punnamoodu, Odyam Mukku and the park at the Kurakkanni helipad and the Nandavanam parking area. The service busses that come from Parippally should take the Punnamoodu – Kairali Nagar route to reach Altharamoodu where the passengers could be dropped and boarded. These busses should return via Maithanam. Meanwhile, the services buses from Edava and Kappil areas should reach Altharamukku through Edaava - Moonnu Mukku. The passengers should be dropped and boarded at Altharamukku before returning via Maithanam.
The crew of private buses should strictly wear uniforms.
The small vehicles coming through these routes should park at the helipad and the Nandavanam parking lot. More than 600 policemen, led by the Attingal DySP, have been deployed at these areas. Besides, police in mufti would take rounds. The main areas would be under strict CCTV surveillance.
Street vendors are barred from setting up shops between Altharamoodu and Papanasam. Vehicles wouldn’t be allowed to pass between the old railway gate at Maithanam and the Goodshed Road.