Despite the efforts of the temple administration to fill water in the temple tank till the last day by pumping water from Manalur pumping station, the water level in the Mariamman Temple’s tank was barely two feet on Sunday and devotees could only worship the idols placed at the float

Hundreds of devotees witnessed ‘Nilai Teppam’ festival at Mariamman Temple’s tank here on Sunday.

According to officials from Hindu Religious and Charitable Endowments (HR and CE) Department the ‘Nilai Teppam’ was witnessed in Madurai after nearly 50 years due to non-availability of water to fill in the temple tank.

Every year during the float festival, devotees from Vandiyur, Annupanadi and other areas surrounding the temple tank would pull the float containing the idols around the ‘mandapam’ from the tank’s periphery. This year, however, the devotees could just worship the idols placed at the beautifully decorated float stationed on one side of the tank.

Despite the efforts of the temple administration to fill water in the temple tank till the last day by pumping water from Manalur pumping station, the water level in the tank was barely two feet on Sunday. In a few places, the ground level was visible, a contrast to the previous years when the tank brimmed with water well in advance for the festival.

The officials said the dry tank percolated all the water that was pumped into the tank for several weeks, leaving them with no option but to go for the ‘Nilai Teppam’.

In the morning, the idols of Goddess Meenakshi, Lord Sundareswarar and Goddess Piriyavidai were taken to the tank from Meenakshi Sundareswarar temple in a colourful procession and kept in the tank for an hour. In the evening, a large number of devotees thronged the temple tank to offer prayer to the idols.

The spectacle lasted till 8 p.m. and traditional music was played as the devotees offered prayers.

Traffic was regulated and elaborate police arrangements were made around the tank to facilitate smooth movement of devotees. Watch tower was also installed to monitor the crowd.

The tradition of taking the deities from Meenakshi Sundareswarar temple to Mariamman Temple’s tank in the month of ‘Thai’ has been in practice from the days of King Tirumalai Nayak, who ruled Madurai.

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