Even anti-social elements organise such functions with the motive of stealing.

Last year, the Madurai police received 20 chain snatching complaints during the Chithirai festival. This has spawned tighter regulation to govern the free distribution of prasadam during the festival this year.

A total of 83 sovereigns of gold were reported missing on the day of the celestial wedding of Goddess Meenakshi with Lord Sundareswarar and on the day of the car festival in May last year. Seven such cases were registered during the recent car festival of the Sri Subramaniaswamy Temple at Tirupparankundram.

Police suspect that people may have been dispossessed of their valuables in the crowd while jostling to get hold of the prasadams on offer.“Now, we will have designated spots around the temple where prasadams will be distributed under the watchful eyes of police personnel,” Commissioner of Police Sanjay Mathur said. The police will be relying on crowd control measures such as ensuring that people queue up to abtain prasadam, he said. Every organisation and individual will have to get police clearance to distribute eatables and the“tirumangalyam” threads. However, chain snatchers and other anti-social elements could take advantage of the surging mass of humanity to pass off as distributers of prasadam so that women and children become soft targets.

“As the distribution exercise takes place, it will not be possible for the police to monitor the movements of theives,” he said. The Commissioner said that the distribution enclosure of the designated centres would be adequately secured and videographed to prevent crimes.

With the heightened security cover provided to Meenakshi Sundareswarar Temple, the police have advised the devotees not to carry bags as they have been banned. The temple authorities had installed mobile signal jammers on the temple premises.

The police said that if the plan to install baggage scanners at the temple entrances by the temple authorities materialises, frisking and checking would become easier and faster. Devotees would face minimum inconvenience, the Commissioner said.

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