Vizianagaram: Sirimanotsavam is the most important regional fest in North Andhra Pradesh.
Religious fervour marked the annual Sirimanotsavam of the presiding deity of Vizianagaram Town — Sri Pydithalli Ammavaru (festival). It is the biggest mother goddess festival in north Andhra on Tuesday.
Over two lakh devotees witness the festival
Over two lakh devotees from various parts of North Coastal Andhra Pradesh and neighbouring Odisha and Chhattisgarh visited Vizianagaram to seek the blessings of the deity. As per schedule, the procession of Sirimanu started at around 4 pm at Chaduru Gudi of Pydithalli and moved slowly towards the fort.
The chief priest of the temple, Bantupalli Venkata Rao, was seated on top of a 40-feet-long pole (sirimanu), parading from the temple to the fort three times before returning to the temple. The devotees, believing that the priest is possessed, threw bananas at him. Lakhs of devotees who occupied every available space along the road and every rooftop in the fort city stayed put to watch till the end of the Sirimanotsavam.
Vizianagaram civic body authorities put up public toilets near the fort, bus station and few other places. Also, the banana skins, which were thrown over the temple at the possessed priest, were immediately cleared to keep the road free of debris.
In the morning, the public conducted pujas at the Mother Goddess temple (Pydithallamma) and sought her blessings. A spiritual and philosophical discourse was also organised to educate the public on the reasons for worshipping the local deity
The locals said that the festival, which started in 1757, had a tragic background. The then Vizianagaram Maharaja Vijayarama Gajapathi Raju’s sister Pydimamba committed suicide by jumping into the local tank. She took the extreme step after knowing about her brother’s death in the historic fight at Bobbili Fort on January 23, 1757.
Anticipating the outcome of the battle, she warned her brother not to go when she and the other family members were down with the plague. Her sudden demise was a big shock for her family and the residents of Vizianagaram.
However, she reportedly told Raja’s aide Pativada Appalanaidu that she would protect the town as Goddess Pydimamba. Later, her idol was found in the tank, and a temple was constructed in her name. That is why all families connected with the episode play a key role in Sirimanotsavam, which has been continuing for the last 260 years.