COVID casts shadow on festivities at Valmikipuram temple

The two-day festival of Srirama Navami has commenced on a low-key affair at the 600-year old Sri Pattabhirama Swamy Temple at Valmikipuram in the district on Wednesday, strictly under the Covid-19 protocols.

Under the supervision of the temple priests and officials, the ritual of “Snapana Tirumanjanam” was performed in the morning, followed by procession of the presiding deity on the Mohini vehicle in the evening. Both the festivities were performed at the inner complex of the temple.

Though a big gathering of public from Valmikipuram mandal headquarters and the surrounding villages kept visiting the temple from the early hours, they were allowed to worship from outside the temple complex. The popular event of “Seetha Ramula Kalyanam” would be performed inside the temple on Thursday night. Except for the local legislator and officials under the protocol, the general public are strictly barred from taking part in the festivities, the temple priests said.

Administered by the Tirumala Tirupati Devasthanams (TTD), the ancient temple saw its glory during the Chola and Vijayanagara dynasties, besides enjoying the patronage of Maratha king Shivaji, and British officials till the Independence.

Immediately after bifurcation of the State in 2014, the people of Valmikipuram and surrounding mandals in Chittoor district had put forth their demand to announce the Pattabhirama Swamy Temple as the official to conduct the celestial marriage of Lord Rama and his consort Seetha Devi on the lines of the Badrachalam in Telangana. However, the opportunity had favoured the Lord Rama Temple at Ontimitta in Kadapa district.

The people of Valmikipuram expressed their anguish, having lost the occasion to participate in the Srirama Navami festivities for the second consecutive year due to the second wave of the Covid-19.

Meanwhile, the festival was celebrated on a grand scale at Kodandarama Swamy Temple at Chittoor, administered by the Endowments Department. About five hundred devotees from several localities of Chittoor offered their prayers in batches, besides taking part in the Abhishekam and Hanumantha Vahanam seva. However, the festival remained a lackluster fare at the rural side following the insistence of the officials to adhere to the Covid protocols.

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