MONDAIKAD (TAMIL NADU):
The 10-day annual “Koda” festival of the famed Bhagavathy Temple in this coastal town began this morning with the traditional flag-hoisting (Kodiyettu) ceremony in the presence of thousands of devotees drawn from Kerala and Tamil Nadu.
The temple Tantri Edakkode Sankaranarayanan and Melsanthi Vignesh Kurukkal initiated the festival rites in the presence of Telangana Governor Dr. Tamilisai Soundararajan and Tami Nadu Information Technology Minister Mr Mano Thankaraj as devotees chanted “SaranamTha Devi, SaranamTha”.”
Dr Tamilisai Soundararajan also inaugurated the 85th annual Hindu Maha Sammelanam organised by the Haindava Seva Sangham after the Kodiyettu ceremony by lighting the traditional lamp.
Others who were present at the hour-long ‘kodiyettu’ ceremony included Mr A Vijayakumar, MP, District Collector Mr M Aravind, District police chief Mr V Badri Narayanan and Devaswom Joint Commissioner Gnanasekhar.
The legendary Koda ritual will be performed in the midnight of March 8, which will be attended by lakhs of devotees from the various regions of Tamil Nadu and the southern parts of Kerala.
“Valiyapadukka,” one of the major rituals of the festival, will be held on March 4 and the procession of “Valiya Theevatti” on March 7.
The festival will conclude on March 8 with the “Odukku Pooja” at midnight. A variety of food items like cooked rice and dishes will be brought in huge mud pots by priests in a procession from a specially erected kitchen outside the temple and offered to the deity during the pooja.
Although devotees offer pongala at the temple daily, on festival days, the numbers swell to thousands. The Kerala State Road Transport Corporation and Tamil Nadu Road Transport Corporation are operating special bus services to and from Thiruvananthapuram during the festival days.
The Tamil Nadu police has deployed a huge contingent of special police and Marine police for security and crowd management. Half –a- dozen watchtowers have been set up around the temple town, including the coastal areas.
The Mondaikad Devi Temple is situated three kms off the port town of Colachel, a prominent trade centre under the erstwhile Travancore princely state. Though located in Tamil Nadu, the temple and its festivals are run as per the rites and traditions followed in Kerala. It was in 1803 that the former ruler of Travancore took over the administration of the temple. The temple is now administered by Kanniyakumari Devaswom Board.
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