Sirimanotsavam emerges as the biggest folk festival in North Andhra

Vizianagaram: Preparations are in full swing for the Sirimanotsavam of the presiding deity of Vizianagaram Town, Sri Pydithalli Ammavaru (festival), the biggest folk festival in North Coastal Andhra Pradesh.

The annual fest is expected to draw more than four lakh people from many parts of North Andhra and also from neighbouring Odisha.

The main attraction of the festival is Sirimanu, a 60-foot tall pole. The devotees will witness the spectacle of the priest sitting on top of the 60-foot pole in regal robes and taken around the fort.

Executive Officer of the temple, G Subrahmanyam said that Pydithalalli Festival commenced with Mandala deeksha on September 21. The main event of the festival, ‘Sirimanotsavam’, will be held on October 15 and Thaptsavam on October 22. The festival will end with Chandi homam on October 30, he added.

Vizianagaram District Collector, M Hari Jawaharlal said that they are making all the arrangements to meet the festive rush for the annual Sirimanotsavam.

Sirimanotsavam has led to the highly popular annual Jatara in the North Coastal region of Andhra Pradesh, like Sammakka Saralamma Jatara or Medaram Jatara. The APSRTC will run hundreds of special buses for the festival, from October 14 to 15.

Vizianagaram Police Chief, B Raja Kumari said that they have installed CCTV cameras at strategic places and will also erect barricades at key locations for the smooth conduct of the major event on October 15.

The priest of goddess Pydithalli Ammavaru will be seated on top of a long pole (sirimanu) and he will be paraded from the temple to the fort three times before returning to the temple. The devotees believe that the priest is possessed and will throw bananas at him.

The locals say that the festival began in 1757 and had a sad back story. The then Vizianagaram Maharaja Vijayarama Gajapathi Raju’s sister, Pydimamba committed suicide by jumping into the local tank. She had taken the extreme step after finding out 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 to war when she and other family members were ill with the plague. Her sudden demise was a big shock for the family and the people of Vizianagaram.
However, she reportedly told the 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 the families who are connected with the episode play a key role in ‘Sirimantosavam’. This festival has been celebrated for the last 260 years.

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