Chennai, April 15(BPNS)
Traders and Vendors of several towns of Tamil Nadu were expecting to make for the losses of 2020 when lockdown had made it impossible to conduct temple festivals. However with the second wave of the pandemic hitting Tamil Nadu, government has already brought in restrictions on the number of people participating in the temple festivals.
With the 12 day Chithirai festival at Meenakshi Sundareswhar Temple commencing on Thursday with the hoisting of the flag, local traders and vendors who were expecting a windfall are in gloom.
Rajashekharan Arumukham who is running a small apparel shop near the famous temple while speaking to BPNS said,” 2020 was a loss and we faced major losses and our bank loans and other commitments had mounted up , however we were expecting a good season in 2021 to make up for the losses. I personally has taken another loan providing my residence as security with the hope that I could make up for the losses in this years 12 day Chithirai season as lakhs of people used to congregate here. Now all hopes are dashed and I am gone.”
The condition is similar across Tamil Nadu with two tier cities and towns also hitting with the pandemic and administration brining in more restrictions.
There is heavy restrictions on the entry of devotees to the temple and entry inside the temple is only through East and South gates and even that to a restricted number of devotees. More than this most of the people are voluntarily opting out of going to temple with the fear of contracting the disease expecting a crowd and this has also hampered the business of small vendors and traders who eke out a living from the sale of materials to the devotees who throng the temple during important festivals.
The festival which began on Thursday, April 15 will come to an end on April 25. The Pattabishekham ceremony is scheduled on April 22, Digvijayam on April 23, Thirukalyanam on April 24 and the car festival on April 25.
Children below the age of 10, pregnant women and senior citizens above 65 years are not allowed entry. Also most of the festivals of the temple are livestreamed thus reducing participation of people.
The devotees are also not allowed to bring in coconut or any other fruits inside the temple for darshan and also not allowed to sit inside the temple after darshan.
The fruit merchants were also expecting a good business during the season which at Madurai is always linked with Chithirai festival.
Sundararaj Manikantan while speaking to BPNS said, “I don’t know what to do, lost heavily during last year and the same thing or worse is happening this year also. I will have to wind up my business and work as daily wage earner to support my family.”
The Trichy Samayapuram Mariyamman Kovil Chithirai car festival generally witness the participation of lakhs of devotees thus bringing cheer to the vendors and traders who surround the temple. With the second wave of the pandemic and the Trichy district administration bringing in restrictions, the vendors have lost total hope in getting any revenue out of the business.
The temple car festival now stands cancelled bringing in gloom to almost all the vendors and traders.
Shanmugham , a fruit merchant near the Samayapuram Mariamman Kovi while speaking to BPNS said, “We lost everything we had earned over the years through last year’s shutting down and with the second wave of pandemic and restrictions imposed, we don’t see any future in this trade. We will be on the street now.”
The traders in unison are of the opinion that the temple administration allow the devotees to take pooja items inside the temple so that there is brisk business and several families survive through this.