The Tungabhadra Pushkaram, scheduled to be organised from November 20 to December 1, is caught in the dilemma of religious beliefs and the COVID-19 protocols.
Political leaders, the district administration, and all wings of the public services are busy making the arrangements for the Puskaram, which is scheduled to be organised between Mantralayam and Kurnool city, where the Tungabhadra river flows after entering Andhra Pradesh and eventually merges with the Krishna River.
On the other hand, the endowments and health departments have issued instructions to exercise caution for the coronavirus pandemic. They have allowed only pujas related to the rituals for paying homage to the dead at the ghats. Even for the visit, one needs to book a time slot at a particular ghat and follow all COVID-19 protocols.
As per the State government’s decision, no holy dip or holy shower would be allowed at the Pushkar ghats. The government is spending lakhs of rupees to regulate the large influx of devotees during that fortnight.
Collector G. Veerapandian on Wednesday inspected several ghats to ascertain the status of the works. More than ₹230 crore has been spent on the construction of 21 new ghats and lakhs is being spent on the creation of other infrastructure to cater to the needs of the devotees.
RTC bus services
The Andhra Pradesh State Roads Transport Corporation (APSRTC), Kurnool Region has planned to ply 47 additional special buses to various ghats in Kurnool city, Mantralayam, Sunkeshula, and Gundrevula.
The RTC is also constructing 11 water-proof sheds at different locations, Regional Manager T. Venkataramam said.
The RTC, Anantapur region, which runs 38 regular services to Kurnool daily has planned eight additional services if there is demand, said Regional Manager Sumanth R. Adoni. Tourism Regional Joint Director B. Eswaraiah, the nodal officer for cultural events, has planned some programmes on each day of the Pushkaram at Sankal Bagh in Kurnool, the main venue. The Sri Raghavendra Swamy Matha (Mutt) will manage two ghats and organise religious rituals.
What the legend says
Legend has it that Lord Shiva had granted a boon to a brahmin who had done severe penance that he could live in water and purify the holy rivers. The brahmin was known as Pushkara (the one who nourishes). Bṛihaspathi (Jupiter) had requested the brahmin to enter one of the 12 sacred rivers when he travelled from one zodiac sign to another. Hence, Pushkaram is celebrated at shrines along the banks of 12 major sacred rivers in India.