People from six districts – Tiruchi, Perambalur, Ariyalur, Pudukottai, Karur, and Thanjavur – used to bathe at the Amma Mandapam padithurai (bathing ghat) for the past several decades.

Water may come and go. But the tradition remains. The holy dip at the famed Amma Mandapam in Srirangam on Thursday on the occasion of Aadi Perukku turned out to be more symbolic than real.

Despite having an apology of a pond, which by no stretch of imagination could be called a river overflowing with joy, which the term Aadi Perukku signifies, people streamed into Amma Mandapam from early hours of Thursday to perform the rituals they have been accustomed to for ages.

People from six districts – Tiruchi, Perambalur, Ariyalur, Pudukottai, Karur, and Thanjavur – used to bathe at the Amma Mandapam padithurai (bathing ghat) for the past several decades.

Knowing full well that Cauvery with swirling waters amounting to thousands of cusecs that grace their region during Aadi has become a thing of the past, men and women, with philosophical resignation writ large on their faces, managed to bathe in the small quantum of water provided by Tiruchi Corporation through a pipeline. A Vedic scholar described their bathing as “ prokshanam” (sprinkling of holy water) out of sheer faith.

For the first time in the history of the river, it is on Thursday that hardly any water from the 77-year-old Mettur Dam had reached the Amma Mandapam; the river has never looked so bone dry say the people living in the vicinity. Lot of people chose to visit the ghat just for offering prayers than bathing.

The remodelled ‘padithurai’ studded with young couples and priests, who performed the ritual of praying for their fertility and prosperity, the features that the Cauvery is always known for, looked busy as usual. Sale of the sacred yellow thread, which is tied like the “mangalasutra\thaali” and also “kanganam,” and the sale of coconut for prayers was robust since morning.

Apart from the ubiquitous Vinayaka ( nothing in the Hindu rituals begins without praying him),the statue of Cauvery Thai, which was said to have been inspired by the one brought from the bungalow of the immortal Tamil comedian of yesteryears N.S.Krishnan, fondly known as ‘kalaivanar’, was worshipped by the devotees.

‘Garuda mandapam’, which is another ‘padithurai’ of the Cauvery on the Mambazha Salai, had only a few devotees as there was hardly any water.

It is the eateries on the way between Ammamandapam and Srirangam shrine that were going merry.

And all these devotees ultimately wended their way to the Sri Renganathaswamy devasthanam, Srirangam, about a kilometre away. Excellent arrangements by both the Corporation and the police made it a hassle-free visit for the devotees.

Vendors on Mambazha Salai lamented that the crowds were hardly a fraction of what it used to be this day of the year. The cultural fete has a special place in the hearts of the people living on the banks of the Cauvery.

Even though four wheelers had to struggle to squeeze themselves through from Mambazha Salai junction to Srirangam Rengnathaswamy Temple, according to the vendors, “even during normal times we rarely get space even to stand and two-wheelers are rarely permitted beyond certain limits on the Mambazha Salai.”

Young couples and women used to send into the river lit-camphor placed on betel leaves as their homage to the river. “Normally it is a sight to behold. But unfortunately this year we will not have the pleasure of seeing thousands of such floats as there is no water to carry them towards the Grand Anicut.”