Barricades put up inside and outside the temple
Based on suggestions from people, Srirangam Sri Ranganathaswamy temple authorities have made special arrangements for this year’s Vaikunta Ekadesi festival. The arrangements have been necessitated as an unusually larger turnout of devotees is anticipated this year in the wake of the festival close to Pongal holidays. The 20-day festival, divided into Pagal pathu and Raa pathu, commenced on January 2, and the important ritual of opening of Paramapada vasal marking the Vaikunta Ekadasi festival falls on January 11.
S. Kalyani, Joint Commissioner of the temple, said on Saturday that with a view to ensuring safety of the devotees, closed circuit television (CCTV) sets have been set up at 16 places, the most important among them being the entrance to Renga Renga gopuram, Sri Chakkarathazhwar shrine, Karthigai gopuram, Kilimandapam, Thurai prakaram, 1,000-pillar mandapam, and Vellai gopuram.
To regulate queues, barricades have been put up inside and on the Chithrai Street outside the temple.
To avoid congestion on the festival day till the Paramapada vassal rituals are completed, Renga Renga gopuram would be the entry point and Vellai gopuram the exit.
Besides, the queue inside the temple would be divided into two components – one leading to sanctum sanctorum and another towards Paramapada vasal. Flex boards would be set up guiding the devotees so that they could choose the queue of their choice, the official said. Additional LED boards would be set up at strategic points, including Garuda Mandapam.
Water tanks are being set up and a police outpost has been opened at the temple.
Two public address systems have been set up, one inside and the other outside the temple. The police plan to install additional surveillance cameras.
The Railways has already opened special counters at the temple to facilitate booking of reserved and unreserved tickets. Tiruchirapalli City Corporation has proposed 24-hour protected drinking water supply to all households and public taps in Srirangam during the festival.
Ms. Kalyani said that adequate steps had been taken for ensuring safety and hygienic environment on the temple premises. “The drainage channels have been cleared of blocks for preventing possible stagnation of sewage waters. Maintenance of all electrical appliances have been taken up all through the temple,” she said.
Devotees especially those who missed their valuables or whose children were left missing in the crowd, were the blessed lot, thanks to the police outpost. Ever since the commencement of the ‘Pagal patthu’ festival, the police have assisted seven missing persons at the temple. The youngest among them was seven-year-old girl. “Before handing over the children to the parents, we ensure their identity,” said S. Kabilan, Assistant Commissioner of Police (Law and Order), Srirangam. He said that mobile phones came in handy for tracing the parents. The police get the parents’ mobile numbers from the children.