The Parthasarathy temple on the banks of the Pampa at Aranmula is all set to celebrate Sree Krishna Janmashtami (Ashtami-Rohini day) in its own unique style on Friday.

The small village is humming with activity and Krishna bhajans rent the air.

The highlight of the festivities is Ashtami-Rohini Vallasadya, a ritualistic mass feast. The ceremony involves serving a sumptuous feast to the devotees. It is done as an important offering to the presiding deity.

The Travancore Devaswom Board and the Aranmula-based Palliyoda Seva Sanghom (PSS) have constituted a six-member committee for the smooth conduct of the annual event on the basis of a direction from the Kerala High Court. The committee comprises PSS president K.V. Sambadevan, its secretary Ratheesh R. Mohan, representatives of devotees P.S. Nair and K.N. Viswanathan, the TDB administrative officer and the assistant commissioner at Aranmula.

Mr. Sambadevan told The Hindu that arrangements have been made to serve the feast to as many as 70,000 people. Sasidharan Nair, a devotee from Melukara near Kozhencherry, had offered 3750 kg of rice for the feast. Another devotee, Balakrishna Pillai of Poovthoor Koippallil near Aranmula, offered 750 kg of special quality row rice for preparing the Palpayasom.

Two lorry loads of vegetables have arrived and preparation of fried items began with the temple priest transferring the fire from the lamp inside the sanctum sanctorum to the main hearth at the temple kitchen on Wednesday.

Mr. Sambadevan said 130 workers have been employed under five main cooks for preparing the Vallasadya. A total of 45 dishes, including several fried items, sweets and different kinds of payasom, would be served. The famous Ambalappuzha Palpayasom will be a special item.

The feast would be served on the sprawling temple premises as well as the Oottupura of the temple and two auditoriums near the eastern entrance.

Mr Sambadevan said the crew of 38 snake boats (palliyodam) would attend the feast. The Ashtami-Rohini Vallamkali, a snake boat regatta, would also be held in the Pampa in the conventional style on Friday. The feast will be served immediately after the utcha puja.

T.K.A. Nair, Principal Secretary to the Prime Minister, will inaugurate the event by lighting a ceremonial lamp at the Aanakkottil before the holy temple mast. K. Jayakumar, Additional Chief Secretary, who is also the TDB Chief Commissioner, will serve the feast in a plantain leaf laid before the golden temple mast on the occasion.

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