Cuddalore: Banking on special day for river clean-up

Penniyar banks are getting spruced up for river festival on January 18

CUDDALORE: The banks of the Penniyar river, just ahead of its confluence point in the Bay of Bengal near Cuddalore, are getting spruced up for the January 18 River Festival. A massive crowd from the town and the nearby taluks will throng banks on that day.

WAITING FOR D-DAY: The banks of Pennaiyar in Cuddalore readying for the January 18 ‘River Festival’. — Photo: C. Venkatachalapathy

The river banks are generally infested with weeds and outgrowths which are so dense as to block the water flow during rainy season. During summer when the river trickles down, the banks will be covered with thorny bushes. Hence, it has become an annual exercise for the civic body to tone up the banks for the festival.

Chairman of the Cuddalore Municipality T. Thangarasu, who has initiated the clean-up drive well in advance, told The Hindu that the civic body had requisitioned a bulldozer from the Agriculture Department to mow down the weeds and municipality trucks to carry the pulled-down thorny bushes to be dumped elsewhere. The approach road too was getting ready for a smooth movement of holiday-makers and sanitation measures would also be taken at this point. Special buses would ply from the main bus stand to the river front, he said.

M. Kala (58), a resident of the area, said that this was an important event for the people of Cuddalore. They used to come in droves to have a holy dip in the Penniyar. Deities would also be brought from almost all temples from across the district to the river for worship. Entertainment avenues would also be provided on the banks, besides rows of shops vending trinkets, household goods and candies. She said that for generations, the Penniyar was considered sacred and therefore, the rituals and last rites were being conducted here.

Though the Pongal festival is celebrated for four days in other places, as far as Cuddalore is concerned, it would be a five-day festival comprising Bogi, Pongal, Kari Naal, Vetri Naal and Thiru Naal.

The Thiru Naal is so named because it is a unique day when one could witness the assemblage of deities from renowned temples at one place. Therefore, Ms. Kala said that the river is the rarest one in the sense that besides providing an irrigation to a vast stretch of land along its course, it also provides a spiritual avenue to the people.

A.V. Ragunathan From THE HINDU

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