Nearly one lakh devotees who came for the ‘Mahamaham’ festival to Kumbakonam were generously served free food as the Shanmugha Arts Science Technology and Research Academy (Sastra) University’s campus here organised a massive ‘annadhanam’ to mark the auspicious occasion.
In fact, the ‘annadhanam’ has been on for the past four days. “We don’t want it to be customary free meal, but a sumptuous “Kalyana sappadu” and hence we fed the devotees hospitably, seated under a giant pandal and served food in plantain leaves. The food was prepared by Arusuvai Arasu Natarajan with a team of 300 cooks, 700 servers and 1000 volunteers in a mammoth exercise,” said S. Vaidhya Subramanian, dean of Sastra.
The “Mahamaham is a lifetime opportunity to serve humanity and to this spiritual event that sees the converging of lakhs of devotees without an invitation, offering delicious food is one of the finest ways of showing Kumbakonam’s hospitality,” said Prof R. Sethuraman, vice-chancellor of Sastra.
The Sastra university had organised ‘annadhanam’ during the last Mahamaham in 2004 also. Devotees praised the arrangements and said that the food was not only filling saving them from the pangs of hunger, but also satiated their taste buds.
The ‘Sastra’ also deployed successfully its in-house developed video analytic tool, using which real time information on the crowds visiting the tank was obtained. This was a key-input for the police authorities to control the massive crowd all through the festival, particularly in the last few days.