Thousands of devotees witnessed car festival and took part in flower offering ceremony that marked the beginning of the month-long Masi festival of Sri Kottai Mariamman Temple here on Friday.

Devotees, who thronged the four rath streets and Palani Main Road, offered a large quantity of flowers to the goddess. The ceremony began with special pujas and abishekam to the presiding deity. Later, the goddess ascended a florally-decorated rath. A temple elephant led the procession.

The car procession started from the temple premises near Rock Fort and returned to the temple after passing through West Car Street, Vanivilasmedu, Palani Main Road, Gopal Samudram Street, and north, east and south car streets. The temple authorities had arranged for three lorries to collect the flower offering from the devotees. These flowers would be used for dawn-to-dusk puja to the deity.

Police personnel were deployed at all junctions and rath procession route to regulate the crowd and provide security to the devotees. Various organisations and auto and taxi operators’ associations had erected shelters and distributed water, buttermilk and food to devotees.

The procession was stopped for 15 minutes on East Car Street owing to a technical snag in the tractor that pulled the car. Temple officials brought another tractor.

Traffic diversion

Palani Main Road and Chathiram Road were close for traffic for more than five hours and buses coming from and proceeding to Palani, Coimbatore, Salem and Karur districts were diverted through R.M. Colony Main Road. The vehicles were allowed to use Palani Main Road after 2.30 p.m.

The temple administration has arranged cultural programmes in the evening on the temple premises during the festival days. Adequate facilities have been provided at the temple for the convenience of devotees.

The flag hoisting ceremony will take place at 12 noon on Tuesday.