Andhra gears up for Godavari Pushkaram, 4 cr pilgrims expected

Andhra gears up for Godavari Pushkaram, 4 cr pilgrims expected - Sakshi Post

Hyderabad: Godavari Pushkaram this time is very special because this is called 'Maha Pushkaram' which comes once in every 144 years. This is very significant from the astronomical point of view.

An 'arti' for Godavari river on the lines of 'Ganga arti' and promotion of temple tourism and cultural art forms are some of the plans of Andhra Pradesh government during Godavari 'Maha Pushkaram' beginning Tuesday as it seeks to enhance the profile of the new state.

Similar to the 'Kumbh melas', celebrated alongside holy rivers across the country, 'Pushkaram' in Andhra Pradesh and Telangana is heldevery 12 years and taking dip in river Godavari is the main feature of the festival.

The conjunction of 'Brihaspati' (Jupiter) entering into 'Simha rasi' (zodiac sign of Leo), Advisor (Communications) to Andhra Pradesh government Parakala Prabhakar, who heads a committee on 'Pushkaram', stated.

The state government is making elaborate arrangements for the event as it expects about 3.5 to four crore people to take part in the event to be held till July 25.

There are 263 bathing ghats in the East and West Godavari districts in Coastal Andhra where the pilgrims can take holy dip. However, the main venue for the 'Pushkaram' in Andhra Pradesh is Rajahmundry in East Godavari district where the Godavari river is full in its expanse.

The river merges with the sea at Antarvedi near Rajahmundry. At one level, it is a religious and spiritual kind of a thing. The government does not want to confine it to just that.

"This is happening after 144 years. So, we want to take this opportunity to make this not only for the people of East and West Godavari but for the entire state. We want to showcase our culture, arts, crafts and food. Not only that, we also want to encourage rural sports and games as well as the art forms that are on the verge of extinction. The art forms include 'Kolatam', 'Hari Katha', 'Burra Katha' etc. We want to promote them and encourage the artists", Prabhakar said.

"The government would like to promote awareness and a worshipful attitude on Godavari river, the lifeline of the state, across Andhra Pradesh,
More importantly, we want to raise the awareness about Godavari and its central place in the life of Andhra Pradesh. Because, about 3,000 TMC of river water, is going wastefully into the sea.That is a huge amount of water. With one TMC of water, you can irrigate about 10,000 acres of paddy fields. If we harness this water, the entire state becomes green, fertile and it will be completely free from drought. It will be useful for drought-proofing the state. So, we wanted to brand river Godavari, create awareness and a worshipful attitude towards the river among the people", he said.

"The government has undertaken two types of works construction of ghats, rooms for changing clothes, laying; and repairing roads leading to the ghats and provision of water and food, which are directly related to the 'Pushkaram'. The 'Pushkaram' also provided an opportunity to spruce up infrastructure like roads, bridges and lighting in towns in the two districts. All temples on the banks of the river have been given a facelift", Prabhakar said.

"All the Pushkaram-related works are over and the total outlay for the event is Rs 1,500 crore", he said.

Noting that about three crore people have attended the Godavari 'Pushkaram' 12 years ago, he said 3.5 to four crore footfalls are expected this time in view of the publicity blitzkrieg unleashed by the state government. Leveraging technology, the state government had launched a website besides a couple of mobile apps for the convenience of the pilgrims.

The entire event in all its dimensions, the way it is observed, the way the cultural activities are done is being filmed by National Geographic. A 45-minute documentary will be telecast worldwide.

Highlighting that an elaborate social media campaign is already underway, Prabhakar said a large number of NRI and foreign tourists are expected to turn up for the event. Godavari is known as 'Dakshin Ganga', that is southern Ganga.

" We wanted to showcase the river. We started the 'Arti'. Every day, huge crowds are thronging the ghats where the 'Arti' is performed. The number is swelling", he said.

The 'arti' for Godavari would be a permanent feature henceforth, he said. Replying to a query, he said the government has the experience in handling the pilgrim rush as it did successfully in 2003.

N Chandrababu Naidu was the Chief Minister in 2003 as well. In addition to the massive police force on duty, a large number of volunteers are also being deployed. The Railways is running special trains to transport the pilgrims, which have seen rush for booking reservations.

State-run Andhra Pradesh State Road Transport Corporation is also operating special services to cater to the requirements of the pilgrims. Andhra Pradesh Tourism is offering special packages from Hyderabad, Vijayawada, Visakhapatnam and Tirupati.


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