Overcast sky and occasional drizzles did not deter devotees from thronging the temple of Sri Pydithalli Ammavaru at Three Lamps junction on Monday.
A day prior to Sirimanotsavam, which is scheduled on Tuesday, Tholi Yeru that is over the years became ‘Tholellu’ is celebrated. Sudha Gajapathi, wife of P. Ananda Gajapathi Raju, hereditary trustee of the temple, P. Ashok Gajapathi Raju, MLA, offered silk clothes to the presiding deity. Assistant Commissioner of the devasthanam Bhanu Raja received them with temple honours.
Transport Minister Botcha Satyanarayana, his wife and MP Jhansi Lakshmi, MLCs Gade Srinivasulu Naidu and Kolagatla Veerabhadra Swamy and other dignitaries too offered prayers on the first day.
Devotees thronged the temple carrying ‘ ghatams’(turmeric water carried in decorated earthen pots) to drum beats and offered prayers.
With the presence of large number of police, para-military, CRPF personnel near the Minister’s residence that is very close to the temple in addition to Section 144CrPC in force in the entire town following arson and subsequent curfew for over 10 days from October 6 the turnout of devotees when compared with last year dropped.
However, the district administration had taken steps to receive about 2 lakh people for the Sirimanotsavam. Police arranged 10 video cameras and four CCTVs in and around the temple to monitor the situation.
The traffic police have allotted parking places for vehicles at M.R. College (Autonomous), Rajiv Sports Complex, and Ayodhya Maidan and restricted entry of vehicles on roads leading to the temple.
In addition to free darshan, the devasthanam trust has fixed Rs. 20 and Rs. 50 per head for special and quick darshans respectively. The devasthanam erected barricades to streamline rush.
Collector Kantilal Dande is firm on closing the utsav before the sunset.
He visited priest T. Bhaskar Rao’s house at Hukumpeta and asked him to be present at the temple as it has been decided to begin the utsav exactly at 3 p.m. and close at 5 p.m.
The State Road Transport Corporation would be operating special services from all its depots to transport people.