Vandiperiyar: The vast grasslands of
Pullumedu had been bubbling with religious fervour last
evening moments before it turned into virtual grave yard
where 104 Ayyappa devotees and trapped and killed in a
The tragedy was all the more intense as the victims were
rushing home to celebrate `pongal festival` with the elation
of having had a good darashan of the Makaravilakku.
The accident spot was almost like a midan which provided
ideal location for the devotees to cool their heels during
the arduous back from the Sabarimala temple.
The mishap spot wore a gloomy and deserted look as they
day dawned with bodies having removed and the injured
It looked like the arena of a devastating war with black
and sffron buundles and cloth bags carried by the devotees
to take prasadams to their homes strewn around the area.
According to local people, many of the victms took the route
to rush back and reach home to celebrate Pongal, the most
important festival of Tamil Nadu.
"I have never seen such a huge crowd before in my life.
It is obvious that they were rushing home to celebrate
pongal with family members after the holy darshan at the
shrine on the auspicious Makaravilakku day", a man hailing
from a hamlet close to Pullumedu told PTI.
An unusually large crowd had converged there last night
as the place offered a vantage point to have a clear darshan
of the `makar jyoti`, considered a divine light appearing on
the eastern horizon after the smakrama pooja.
Some of the groups of pilgrims spent their evening a
frenzied mood chanting bhajans and performing `arti` with
camphor, considered an auspicious offering to the deity of
Though the tradedy struck at around 8.15 last night, it took
two hours for the outside world to know the magnitude of the
incident as the terrain is remote and difficult to access even
without sufficient range for mobile phones.
Deployment of police for crowd management was also lean
in the area as vast majority of pilgrims go down the shrine
through the Pampa route where forces had been deployed in