Mahamanam festival comes to an end
The Kumbakonam Mahamaham festival concluded today on the tenth day and around 24 lakh devotees have witnessed the 'Theerthavari' event. After the 1992 stampede, authorities had taken special care and arranged water sprinklers at the tank to spray the holy water on the people, but people preferred to take a dip. Many holymen and agoras had also come to witness the festival.
'Mahamaham' is a festival that is celebrated once in every 12 years at 'Mahamaham tank' in Kumbakonam, Tamil Nadu. Devotees from across the country visit the place to take a dip in the tank on the festival day as it is considered sacred and it is believed that one can get rid of their accumulated sins. The Mahamaham festival was last celebrated in 2004.
Hindu mythology states that Lord Shiva refers to the Mahamaham tank as a tank filled with nectar and taking a bath in it would wash off one's sins. It is said that the festival should be celebrated on the full-moon day of Maasi (a Tamil month), and when Jupiter is in the Leo constellation. It's believed that all Indian rivers unite on this day.
The Mahamaham tank is spread over an area of 6.2 acres and has 16 shrines surrounding it. There are 21 wells inside the trapezoidal tank that have names of Lord Shiva, and all holy rivers are inscribed on them.
The surge of devotees congregated to have a holy dip in the tank caused a deadly stampede resulting in the death of 50 people inside the tank. It was reported that when the then Tamil Nadu CM Jayalalitha visited the tank, all the devotees rushed to see her causing a stampede. According to some, the collapse of a concrete-structure caused the stampede.
On 22 February, officials are expecting more than 20 lakh devotees to attend the Mahamaham festival to take a holy dip. The festival began on 10 February, and more than 40 lakh people have visited the tank since then, without any tragedies taking place. To avoid mishaps, security arrangements have been made and medicines, food, transportation were made available at all places.
To avoid mishaps people have been allowed since the start of the festival on all ten days. It is estimated that this year, around 60 lakh people would have attended the festival celebrations during the ten days.