Varanasi prepares for Pushkaralu festival

Kashi and Haridwar, witness a turnout of lakhs of people from Andhra Pradesh and Telangana during this festival.

Varanasi: Varanasi is preparing to host a huge congregation of people from South India for the 12-day Ganga Pushkaralu festival, commencing from April 22.

During this festival, a mega congregation of pilgrims from Telugu-speaking region of the country will take place on the banks of Ganga River to worship rivers and their ancestors.

Kashi and Haridwar, witness a turnout of lakhs of people from Andhra Pradesh and Telangana during this festival.

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District Magistrate S Rajalingam said that as pilgrims reach from Telugu regions to perform rituals of Pind-daan after bathing in the Ganga River, all necessary arrangements including toilets, changing rooms, drinking water, rescue teams including divers, medical team and police for crowd regulation would be finalised before the commencement of the festival.

Alternative arrangements for stay of pilgrims in schools, shelter homes, ashrams and other places are also being done in advance.

Telugu and Tamil speaking persons would also be engaged for announcements, he added.

Regarding Pushkaralu, he said, “The 12-day Pushkaralu festival of Telugu-speaking people will be held along the Ganga river this year after a gap of 12 years. Major religious centres along the Ganga, especially Kashi and Haridwar, witness a turnout of lakhs of Telugu people from Andhra Pradesh and Telangana.”

As per the legend, after severe penance, a devotee Pushkara was blessed by Lord Shiv with the ability to live in water and purify holy rivers. On the request of Guru Brihaspati (Jupiter) in view of his abilities, Pushkara decided to enter 12 sacred rivers – Ganga, Narmada, Saraswati, Yamuna, Godavari, Krishna, Kaveri, Bhima, Tapti, Tungbhadra, Sindhu and Pranhita. Each river has its zodiac sign. The river for each year’s festival is decided as per Brihaspati’s travel from one zodiac sign to another.

The managing trustee of Ram Tarak Andhra Ashram, V V Sunder Shastri said, “Pushkaralu is celebrated for reverence of ancestors. After taking a dip in the holy river, pilgrims perform many other rituals, including those performed for the ancestors. Spiritual discourses, devotional music and cultural programmes are also organised during the festival.”

Varanasi had faced chaos when the last Ganga Pushkaralu had taken place in 2011 and no prior arrangement was made to manage the crowd.

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