Pullumedu bubbled with chants before tragedy struck
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Last Updated: Saturday, January 15, 2011, 16:39
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 stampede.

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 hospitalised.

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 the hillshrine.

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 large numbers. PTI

First Published: Saturday, January 15, 2011, 16:39

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