By: Vanam Jwala Narasimha Rao
The much-awaited Krishna Pushkaralu 2015 begins on July 14 as Jupiter enters the zodiac sign Leo. With a view to celebrate them on a grand scale, in a way never observed before, the Telangana government has made elaborate arrangements. Jupiter will be in one zodiac sign or other every year but when he enters and joins Pushkarudu, river Godavari, gets Pushkaralu. Similarly, Pushkaralu are also performed for different rivers in the country, in different years. These rivers are: Ganges, Reva, Saraswathi, Yamuna, Krishna, Kaveri, Bheemarathi, Brahmaputra, Tungabhadra, Sindh and Praneeta. It is believed that during the Pushkaralu at a particular river, all the 33 crore Hindu Gods and Goddesses will come and take a holy dip in that river.
Pushkaralu come once every 12 years and Godavari Pushkaralu was last celebrated in 2003. This year’s Pushkaralu are referred to as Maha Kumbhamela as this comes once in every 144 years!
Godavari is the biggest and largest river in South India and is often called Dakshin Ganga. Mythology says Godavari branched out of Ganges. River Godavari originates at Nasik Trayambak and travels 136 kilometers in Maharashtra. Later, it enters Telangana state at Kandakurthi in Nizamabad district. It passes through Nizamabad, Karimnagar, Adilabad, Warangal, and Khammam districts at Basara, Dharmapuri, Kaleswaram, Eturu Nagaram and Bhadrachalam before entering into East and West Godavari districts in AP and then merges into the sea at Antarvedi.
Pushkaralu for any river are basically an elaborate religious and pious program spread over 12 days dating back to the age-old traditions and customs. It is a faith among the people that Pushkarudu will cast a spell on the river during these 12 days, and hence taking a holy dip during the period is considered spiritually beneficial. It is also believed that those who take a dip during Pushkaralu will be benefited with longevity, wealth and prosperity.
During Pushkaralu, people also perform rituals for their dead. This is precisely the reason why, like in Kumbha Mela for the holy Ganges, for Godavari River also lakhs of people visit to take a holy dip. The Telangana government has taken this as a prestigious program and wanted to organize it in a big way. The government is not considering it as an official program but wants to provide every facility that is required to the pilgrims as its committed responsibility. In addition, the government is also taking care of every aspect of law and order issues.
During the previous Pushkaralu in 2003, the then government of Andhra Pradesh, with a view to gain political benefit in the elections due in 2004, created a hype and concentrated on publicity gimmicks. In contrast, the present TRS government, in a focused manner, evinced keen interest in providing facilities rather publicity. The government has grabbed this opportunity to start religious and cultural tourism. Chief Minister K Chandrasekhar Rao has instructed officials concerned to ensure facilities at all the bathing ghats and renovate temples to enable pilgrims have comfortable Darshan. The state government also made all arrangements for lakhs of devotees expected to come from all parts of the country, and even abroad.
Excellent transport facilities, connecting routes were arranged for the easy mobility of people and to have smooth and hassle free-visit. A massive publicity campaign is devised to attract all Telangana people residing in other places like Mumbai, Bhivandi, Sholapoor, Surat and other towns to come to Telangana and take a holy dip in the river Godavari. Enough awareness has been created on Pushkaralu in northern India too. Non-Resident Indians in several countries are expected to visit Telangana State for a holy dip.
Additional facilities have been provided by the government in places like Basara, Dharmapuri, Kaleswaram, Kandakurti, Bhadrachalam etc. where people are expected to come in larger numbers. Women and children will be ensured special care and protection. Regulation of pilgrim rush will be taken care of. Medical facilities are also provided.
Realising the importance and the need for arrangements on a large scale, the Chief Minister initiated action almost a year ago itself. Review meetings were held on a regular basis. A cabinet sub-committee has been constituted to oversee the arrangements and creation of facilities. Basic infrastructure like improvement of flood banks, bund beautification, widening of roads, improving bathing ghats, development of parking areas, sanitation, toilets, drinking water facilities, temporary accommodation, first-aid etc are being created.
The state government will organize the Godavari Pushkaralu in 5 districts namely Adilabad, Nizamabad, Karimnagar, Khammam, and Warangal districts. A total of 106 Pushkar Ghats are constructed along the river Godavari in these five districts at all the holy temple towns namely, Basara, Dharmapuri, Kaleswaram, Bhadrachalam, as well as at places where Godavari flows like Kandakurti, Pochampadu, Manchiryal, Goodem, Ramannagudem, and Parnasala.
Chief Minister Chandrasekhar Rao, who himself has deep knowledge and understanding of the rituals, methods and practices to be observed during Pushkaralu, had instructed officials to be in touch with the Peetaadhipathis, spiritual leaders, Swamis, Hindu preachers and seek their blessings and advice from time to time. Advisor to the Government K V Ramanachary, Spiritual Guru to the CM, Mritunjaya Sarma, Yayavaram Chandrasekhara Siddhanti, 90-year-old Palakurthi Nrusimha Siddhanthi and others as a team met them and extended invitation for Pushkaralu. The Peethadhipathis include among others Kanchi, Srungeri, Pushpagiri, Mantralayam, Kurtalam and Vijayadurga. In addition, they also extended invitation to Swaroopananda Swamy, Gurumadananda Swamy, China Jeeyar Swamy, Dharmapuri Sachindanda Swamy, and a host of other seers.
Almost all of them agreed in principle to participate in Pushkaralu. China Jeeyar Swamy offered to visit Bhadrachalam on the first day to have a holy dip in the Godavari. Later he would spend five days at Manchiryal and perform Pushkaralu related rituals and yagnas-Yagas besides addressing pilgrims with a holy discourse. Guru Madananda Swamy will be at Basara on the first day and later, for the rest of twelve days tour different places in Telangana. Rest of the Peethadhipathis will go to other places and temples there.
– (The author is CPRO to Telangana Chief Minister)
Source: The New Indian Express