news Tuesday, July 14, 2015 - 05:30
Whether or not yout take a dip in the river during the Pushkaram, being part of the celebration is being immersed in a sea of humanity with all its quirkiness. Pushkarams are a form of river worship and are held annually in rotation among 12 rivers considered to be  holy. This year, planet Jupiter has entered the Rashi or Hindu zodiac sign of Simha or Leo, so it's the Godavari's turn. What makes it even more auspicious is that this year also sees the Maha Pushkaram which happens only once in 144 years - the 12th anniversary of the Godavari Pushkaram (occurring once in 144 years). The next Maha Pushkaram is to be held in 2159. Pictures and text by Umika Pidaparthy By Umika Pidaparthy While multiple Pushkarams are held along the Godavari in both East Godavari and West Godavari districts, it is Rajahmundry (East Godavari district) which holds the pride of place: the Godavari joins the sea at Antarvedi near Rajahmundry. A Pushkaram held in Rajahmundry last week  was marked equally by laughter and chanting of devotional hymns.   The procession was led by a group of musicians playing popular bhajans and keerthanams often heard at weddings. As the group moved through Rajahmundry many followers and curious bystanders attracted by the music and announcements joined in as well.   Organisers estimated over 10,000 people were in attendance but it was difficult to verify those numbers since there were no officials maintaining records.   Entire families often comprising more than 10 members had travelled from far and wide were marching on. Some women even wore the same saris as a way to identify each other in the crowd.    A modern day religious festival is incomplete without media presence. Media crews in town, tracking the procession as it made its way to the river.   On approaching the Rajahmundry Maha Shiva Lingam which overlooks the bathing ghats, the group had to weave through heavy morning traffic until they finally made it to the river. As they entered the ghat the crowd erupted into chants of "Godavari Mata Ki Jai" and "Om Namah Shivaya".   Reporters from TV channels such as NTV, ETV, TV9 and newspapers like Deccan Chronicle could be seen wading into the water to get quotes from participants.   People dip themselves thrice in the river, before performing a puja to honour their ancestors.    As rituals were held on the banks, people took turns taking a dip in the river and helping each other get out of the water. Eventually the crowd thinned but not before they were treated to the sight of huge river-cleaning robots with conveyor belts that picked up trash and flowers thrown into the water during the pujas.