Why River Worship?
Since time immemorial, river worship, known as Pushkaram, is performed to make people realize the importance of water, the life-sustaining force.
What is Pushkaram?
Pushkaram is a holy happening once in every 12 years at each of the 12 major rivers of India, the Godavari being one among them. Every 12th year Jupiters entry into the constellation Leo marks the Pushkaram for Godavari. It is believed that during this period all deities with the rishis (holy men) enter the particular river for a holy dip. It is a belief that the rituals like snana (bath), dana (charity), japa (recitation), archana (worship) and dhyana (meditation), performed during Pushkaram bless the people in every sphere of their lives.
The Godavari Pushkaram 2003
The Indian State of Andhra Pradesh extended a hearty welcome to all pilgrims and tourists who arrived for the Godavari Pushkaram which began on 30th July, 2003 and ended on 10th August, 2003. Enriched with abundant cultural heritage, Andhra Pradesh boasts of many temple towns on the banks of the Godavari river. (View Webcast of the event)
Pushkara Mahotsavam was held at nine prominent temple towns in the State. They were Basara in Adilabad, Dharmapuri and Kaleswaram in Karimnagar, Bhadrachalam in Khammam, Kovvuru in West Godavari and Rajahmundry, Pattiseema, Drasksharamam and Antharvedi in East Godarvari districts. A large number of pilgrims converged in these places. To give a wide publicity to the festival, the State Tourism Department organised literary and cultural programmes at all the temple towns along with exhibitions. Ethnic Food Festivals were an added attraction. The literary and cultural programmes included religious discourses, devotional music, poetic symposia, dance ballets, stage plays, and various other popular forms of entertainment.
Over 15,000 police personnel were deployed for the twelve-day Godavari Pushkarams along the banks of the river. Besides, 10,572 policemen were posted in East and West Godavari districts. An elaborate police arrangement was made in view of the gathering of over five crore pilgrims from different parts of the country. A control room was established at Hyderabad. Better communication system and 200 CCTV facility were provided at important bathing ghats to monitor the crowds. Boats and trained police swimmers are deployed at strategic places around the ghats to prevent any mishap. Luckily, the mega event passed off without any untoward happening anywhere.
The State Government deployed medical personnel, equipment and medicines at all 164 bathing ghats in all the seven districts from July 30 to August 10. The banks of the river were chlorinated regularly. There was a strict monitoring of food and drinking water on the lines of the model adopted at the Kumbh Mela in Allahabad in 2001. USD 37 million was spent on the 12-day river festival.