The Ammamandapam bathing ghat on the banks of the Cauvery in Srirangam has turned into a picture of neglect and a source for pollution.
Stagnant plastic wastes, water bottles, and saris abandoned by women as a mark of fulfilment of their vows have polluted the water on the southern side of the river. On the northern side, the discharge of sewer through Kudamurutti adds to the problem.
The Cauvery at the ghat is considered auspicious for various rituals associated with Srirangam temple, the most important of them being ‘Chithra Pournami’ and ‘Adi Perukku’.
Holy water from the ghat is taken to the temple to mark the commencement of important festivals. Namperumal is brought to the bathing ghat during ‘theerthavari’ rituals.
Those performing religious rites for their departed ancestors throng the bathing ghat every day. On an average, 500 to 1,000 persons offer worship at the ghat on any given day. And the place is usually bustling with crowd on new moon days and major festivals.
A row of shops at the entrance to the ghat sell ‘kumkum’, flowers, coconuts, dishes, saris, and dhotis. “ The beauty and serenity of the place is gone,” said T.Thangarasu of Nangavaram village near Perugamani who came for a holy dip at the site on Saturday. The slushy water and decaying waste materials had converted the water at the ghat into a serious health hazard.
Discouraged by the condition of the water at the site, Manivelu (65), who came to collect water for an annual religious festival at a temple in his native village Thuramangalam near Perambalur, said that he had to collect water from a nearby hand pump set up by the City Corporation.
Another devotee who often visits Ammamandapam ghat said that the water supplied through the pump is not fit for consumption, “but we are forced to consume the unsafe water,” he said adding that the problem is because of the discharge of sewage from Kudamurutti into the Cauvery.