It is not only the temple car festival of Arulmigu Gurunathaswamy temple at Pudupalayam, near Anthiyur, that attracts thousands of devotees every year, but also the hundreds of temporary shops lining on both the sides of the road for over three km, display of indigenous breed of cows and horses at the cattle festival which raises the festive mood of the devotees.
The five-day annual festival got off to a flying start with devotees carrying the two decorated temple cars with the main deities, Sri Kamatchi, Sri Perumal and Sri Gurunathaswamy on their shoulders in the morning. The cars were moved on amidst drum beats and playing of traditional musical instruments.
This marks the beginning of the festival which brings devotees from hilly areas in the region and from other parts of the State and from Karnataka.
The road seems festooned with hundreds of temporary shops selling lip-smacking sweets, halwa in eye-catching colours, heaped seasonal fruits, sugar cane juice shops, eateries, hotels, kitchenware, toys and the bottled-coloured soft drinks. ‘We could see everything needed for us lined up on the road’, said Subban from Bargur. Shops were feast to the eyes as well as to the stomach, he added.
The key attraction in the carnival is the livestock and cattle, numbering over 18,000 to 20,000, which is both for display and for sale. Each breeds were allotted separate place and visitors have to cover over two acres to witness the displays.
Displays include indigenous and nearly extinct Alambadi and Bargur breeds, Ongole cows and breed varieties from North India.
Due to severe drought, farmers have brought more of their cattle for sale, said a trader from Kerala.
A special breed of cow, the two-foot Punganur dwarf cow, which originated from Chitoor district in Andhra Pradesh, was kept on display by a farmer from Senthamangalam in Namakkal district.
This is not just a festival, but a chance for the modern youngsters and children to learn about village fair, said 75-year-old Kannamal of Anthiyur.
Marwari horse, a Rajasthani breed, which is 65-inches, is the tallest horse at the carnival and costs Rs. 25 lakh.
Its proud owner S. Vignesh, a textile businessman, from Karur district said that special feeds worth Rs. 500 are given everyday to the horse. A few horses were decorated and made to dance to dhol beats which amused the onlookers. Apart from this, visitors enjoyed seeing horn sheep and poultry varieties.
The Tamil Nadu State Transport Corporation (TNSTC) started operating special buses from various parts of the district to the temporary bus stand in Pudupalayam.
However, devotees wanted traffic to be regulated in the stretch and also make availability of drinking water and toilet facilities in the area.