Religious fervour marked Sivaratri celebrations at Srisailam as thousands of devotees thronged Sri Mallikarjuna - Bramarabhika Devi temple on Sunday.
Sivaratri is an important event at Srisailam wherein the festival goes on for eleven days. A large number of pilgrims from far-flung towns of Andhra Pradesh and Karnataka reach the place travelling by vehicles and on foot to have darshan of the Jyothirlinga on Sivaratri.
The cult of “Sivadeeksha” has grown in the last decade wherein the devotees start their “deeksha” 41 days prior to Sivaratri leading an austere life following restricted diet, celibacy and meditating three times a day. They undertake the spiritual journey to Srisailam in the last week trekking to the place on foot through the forest.
Devout pilgrims from Karnataka cover the entire stretch of distance on foot while the aged get off their vehicles near Atmakur and trek the remaining distance on foot through the dense forest coursing the ancient route.
The temple authorities made elaborate arrangements for the ‘Sivaswamis’ and general pilgrims by forming separate queue lines. Meanwhile, the important rituals started in the early hours such as Chandiswarapuja, Rudrahomam, Chandihomam while Nandivahana Seva, Yedurkolu, Pagalankarana, Lingodbhava Mahanyasaka Rudrabhishekam and Kalyanotsavam constituted the evening rituals.
Though the pilgrims looked sparse in the noon due to hot sun, the streets leading to the temple overflowed with pilgrims by evening.
Despite the authorities’ plan for elaborate arrangements, the demand outstripped infrastructure with the pilgrims complaining of water shortage. Priority was given to sanitation and medical facilities.
Collector C. Sudharsan Reddy and SP S. Chandrasekhar Reddy camped in the temple town and coordinated the programmes. Director General of Police V. Dinesh Reddy visited the place and offered prayers in the temple. He was received by Executive Officer K.V. Sagarbabu.
Meanwhile, other Shivite temples in the district - Mahanandi, Yaganti, Sangameswara temple at Kurnool and Omkaram were crowded with pilgrims.