Sadly, tragedy occurred at the Ayyankulam Tank this morning during the Mahadhaya Maha Punniya Kalam 2016 ceremonies.
At least four people drowned in the Ayyankulam Tank and a number of others were injured when a stampede broke out as hundreds of devotees jostled to bathe in the Theertham on the auspicious occasion of Mahodaya Amavasya.
|West Gate. Theerthavari would be performed by priests standing in the water on the bottom steps|
It is reported that around 7,000 devotees gathered around the tank to witness the dipping of the presiding deity in the water (theerthavari) on the occasion of the Mahodaya Thai (Tamil month) Amavasya (new moon day), which occurs once in 30 years.
Temple Priests had performed special poojas for the Trident and the Gods Lord Arunachelswarar and Sri Abhidhakujambal since midnight of the previous day which culminated in 'Maha Deeparathanai' (aarti). The ceremony was then to be followed by "theerthavari" (holy dip) early this morning.
|Background. Raja Gopuram of Big Temple, Arunachala|
Reports state that the stampede occurred when a procession was taking the deity towards the temple pond. It has also been reported that when the Western Gate of the Tank was opened around 6.45am, devotees rushed forward to the tank which led to a stampede.
|Ayyankulam Tank: View from top of Steps, West Gate|
Immediately after the tragedy Police sealed the tank entrance and rescued about 50 people who were trapped in the stampede. Fire and rescue services personnel rushed to the spot and rescued the injured.
I will post additional information as things become clearer.
Heartfelt condolences to all those involved in this sad accident.