The annual Thai Poosam festival at Sri Dhandayuthapani Swamy Temple at Palani – one of six holy Abodes of Lord Muruga - began with the hoisting of the holy flag on Sunday.
It was the first event after the consecration of the temple which was held on January 27. The holy flag was hoisted at the Sri Periyanayaki Amman - Sri Somaskandar Temple also known as ‘Oorkoil,’ around 9.30 a.m. amidst chanting of hymns.
Special pujas were performed to Lord Vinayaga and the kodimaram (flag mast) at Kodikatti Mandapam. In the evening, the presiding deities Lord Dhandayuthapani Swamy and Goddesses Valli Deivanai were taken in a procession along the Rath streets.
The celestial wedding would take place on February 3 between 7 p.m. and 8 p.m. On the following day, which is the highlight of the celebration – Thai Poosam – would be celebrated, followed by the holy Car festival at 4.30 p.m. The festival will conclude on February 7.
Temple’s Joint Commissioner N. Natarajan told The Hindu that annadhanam at two places for devotees and padayatris were inaugurated by Food Minister R. Sakkarapani. “The annadhanam mandapams at Kongur on Dharapuram-Palani road and at the shelter for devotees near Kuzhandhai Velappar Temple in Oddanchatram are equipped to serve 10,000 devotees per day until the festival concludes,” he said.
He added that they expect a footfall of around 30 lakh.
Superintendent of Police V. Baskaran said that around 1,500 police personnel have been deployed to ensure smooth conduct of the festival. “The parking lot arrangements made, reflector badges fitted en route to the temple, and the CCTV cameras and ‘May I Help You’ booths set up for the kumbabishekam stays true for the festival as well,” he added.
The fire and rescue service teams would be present at Idumbankulam and Shanmuganadhi where devotees would take a holy dip.
The TNSTC would operate the special buses from central and southern districts to the shrine between February 3 and 6 and the Southern Railway would operate special trains to clear the extra rush of devotees on February 3, 4 and 5.