Cultural programmes, bustling streets lend a different feel to the capital on festival eve

Red bricks line the roads, earthen pots are heaped in every corner, and jaggery sales are up. Loudspeakers blare out music, in many languages, at major junctions, and autorickshaw drivers accept nothing less that double charge. For sure, it's the eve of Pongala festival.

The ten-day temple festival celebrated in the Malayalam month of Makaram-Kumbham (February-March) will enter its most important day on Wednesday when thousands of women would offer Pongala to the goddess of the Attukal Bhagavathy temple.

Thousands had reached the city on Tuesday morning itself to book their places as close to the temple as possible. Most trains to the city were packed on Tuesday.

The special train from Kollam had around 3,000 women who had arrived for the festival. Station Master T.P.K. Sivadasan said that arrangements had been made to provide food and water to the devotees at the station.

Special shows

Special shows at 12.30 a.m. in major theatres in the city; transport services by drivers' unions and free refreshments — Thiruvananthapuram has its own way of welcoming its special guests.

“Film shows are arranged so that people can spend the night at the theatre and leave around 3 a.m. to prepare for the festival,” said N. Maniyan Pillai, staff at Sree Kumar Theatre in the city.

Electronic eyes

Safety preparations are also in full swing with more than 5,000 policemen, including 25 shadow police, deployed in the area. Apart from this, 25 closed circuit televisions and three control rooms will monitor the festival. The services of ‘108' ambulance services have also been made available.

A special team of St. John's Ambulance Brigade, Southern Railway, would be deployed at the railway station. “All arrangements such as first-aid kits, doctor on call, and ambulances have been made,” said R. Rengarajan, core officer of the St. John's Ambulance Brigade.

Happily awake

Legend has it that Goddess Kannagi took rest here on her journey from Madurai to Kodungallur. The city, it seems, is in no mood for a sleep.

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