The temple city of Tirupati was drowned in the din produced by the drum beats (Thappetlu) early on Tuesday as batches of devotees strolled towards the Gangamma temple for the conventional ‘Pongallu'.

The devotees marched towards the spruced-up shrine in groups, each led by a band of drummers and a man carrying the decorated ‘Sapralu'. They danced their way down to the temple as is the convention during the fete from the days of yore.

Every inch of the temple and its surroundings was filled with devotees, mostly women, offering the traditional ‘Pongallu' to the folk goddess for the health and prosperity of their families. Local people believe that the folk goddess safeguards all the four contours of the Tirupati and its downtown areas from the evil effects of spirits and communicable diseases and it is to propitiate the goddess that the local people celebrate the folk festival with lot of devotion, while it is fun and frolic for the men, especially the youth.

Thousands of devotees offered prayers to the deity of Gangamma decked up in a way befitting the occasion. Elaborate arrangements were made for the orderly conduct of the festival under the supervision of the Chairman of the temple's trust board Bharanikumar Yadav and Executive Officer Ekambaram. Police outposts were put up at vulnerable places and traffic regulated. A number of households and organisations observed the day by free distribution of butter-milk and water-sachets besides offering the traditional ‘amballu' (gruel made of ragi and rice powder) to all passers-by.

MLA participates

Chittoor Correspondent writes: MLA and hereditary trustee C.K. Babu offered prayers to Nadiveedhi Gangamma deity along with his wife Lavanya, in the early hours.

Women offer ‘Pongallu' to the folk goddess and pray for health and prosperity of their families