Devotees in large numbers throng Salur to witness the ritual

The festival is celebrated once in a decade

An unidentified person was electrocuted

VIZIANAGARAM: Lakhs of devotees from the neighbouring border districts of Orissa in addition to locals occupied every inch in Salur on Tuesday to witness the ‘Sirimanotsavam' of Sri Syamalamba that is being celebrated once in a decade.

Barring an incident of electrocution of an unidentified person, the celebrations began peacefully in the evening.

Unlike ‘Sri Pydithalli Ammavaru jatara' here, the 90-feet-long Sirimaanu (ceremonial pole) was being pulled by devotees through main thoroughfares in the entire town in a span of 12 hours. According to rough estimates, it is likely to end in the early hours of Wednesday. During the period hereditary priest Janni Chittaiah, who, it is believed represents the goddess on this day, sits on the specially erected ‘aasanam' (seat) at one end of the pole.

Humid conditions

Braving the humid conditions, devotees waited in long serpentine queues to offer prayers to the goddess at Sri Syamalamba Temple, near Bose Bomma Junction, from early hours. Prominent among those offered prayers at the temple were local MLA P. Rajanna Dora, Municipal Chairperson M. Gangamma and hereditary trustee of the temple Vikramchandra Sanyasi Raju. The entire town wore a festive look. Some house-holds erected pandals in front of their homes and illuminated them. Sweet Stalls' Association has arranged one lakh laddus for distribution among visiting devotees free of cost.

The hereditary priest, Janni Chittaiah, who has been mounting the ceremonial pole since 1974, said: “I am very fortunate to mount the ‘sirimanu.' And, this is the fifth time. I think it is the result of my deeds in the past (janma) birth.” On this day, he observes fast.

The State Road Transport Corporation operated special buses up to Vegavathi River Bridge and from there devotees were seen walking up to the temple. Police had a tough time controlling the surging crowds.