Thousands of people thronged Mariamman Teppakulam on Saturday during the annual float festival to get a glimpse of presiding deities of Meenakshi Sundareswarar Temple – Goddess Meenakshi and Lord Sundareswarar.
The 12-day festival reached its crescendo as the decorated temple float wafted through a brimming tank, on Thai Poosam, the birth star of King Tirumalai Nayak. The 22-acre tank housed a bright float – a replica of interiors of the Meenakshi Sundareswarar temple.
Joint Commissioner of Hindu Religious and Charitable Endowments Department and Executive Officer of the temple N. Natarajan said arrangements were made to ensure that images on the float was similar to sanctum sanctorum of the temple. They wanted to recreate the experience for those visiting it from far away places. “With enough water this year, people can see the idols even from a distance as the float is buoyant at a height. Floral arrangements and decoration of the tank have been made by experts from Tiruchi,” he said.
The float was taken around the tank twice from 11.15 a.m. As per convention, youth from the Devendrakula Velalar community from nearby Anuppanadi pulled the float around the central mandapam of the tank using nylon ropes. The group was led by Agniveeran who said that his family has been in the process of pulling the float since the tank was first built. Priests performed special pujas at the central mandapam.
Larger crowds can be seen in the evening from different parts of Madurai walking across PTR bridge to witness the float going around the tank. With colourful lights, sale of food items and knick knacks, the area was alive with devotional music.
Foreign tourists from different countries including France and Germany witnessed the event and watched a cultural show organised by the Tourism Department and Travel Club, Madurai. Its president Chitra Ganapathy said brochures were given to tourists explaining the story behind construction of the temple tank and its history.
Earlier, the deities were taken in a procession through Chithirai streets, East Masi Street, Yanaikkal, Nelpettai and Kamarajar Salai to Muktheeswarar Temple near Teppakulam.
A total of two boats filled with fire and rescue personnel surveyed the premises and kept close to the float to ensure that no untoward accident took place.
Traffic on Kamarajar Salai was diverted from 10.30 a.m. to 12 p.m.