Staff Reporter

THENI: Thousands of devotees witnessed the Chitra Pournami festival, celebrated with religious fervour, at the Mangaladevi Kannagi temple on the Western Ghats, along the Tamil Nadu-Kerala border, near here on Wednesday.

The Theni and Idukki district administration and the Forest Departments of both the States made elaborate arrangements.

Officials of the Kerala Forest Department seized all plastic materials from pilgrims at the entry point. All vehicles were scanned.

The devotees climbed the hill through a trekking path, laid in 1934, from Paliyankudisai to reach the temple.

Besides pilgrims, 250 Tamil `pandit' women trainees of N.M. Venkatasamy Nattar Thiruvarul College, Thanjavur, came to the temple to learn more about Kannagi.

Collector Har Sahay Meena, who monitored arrangements, said officials had been deployed on the jeep route and on the trekking path.

Theni Superintendent of Police, R. Sudhakar said security had been tightened at all points. A team of doctors and paramedical professionals, led by S. Balasubramaniam, Deputy Director of Health Services, set up three medical camps. "We kept even oxygen cylinders and medicines ready. An ambulance was deployed at the forest checkpoint," Mr. Balasubramaniam said.

Priests from Kerala and Tamil Nadu performed special pujas to the main deity housed in a highly dilapidated granite structure.