Thousand of devotees on Saturday thronged the Agni Theertham seashore in Rameswaram and took a holy dip on the auspicious day of Mahalaya Amavasya.
Right from early in the morning on Saturday, pilgrims gathered here and offered 'tarpan' (a ritual to offer water and prayers to their ancestors' soul) to their forefathers on the occasion of Ammavasai' which falls in the Tamil month of Purattasi.
Ammavasai falls every month but the Purattasi Mahalaya Ammavasai holds a special significance for the devotees.
"Purattasi Mahalaya Ammavasai is an important occasion, dedicated to Bidur (forefathers). It is believed that during these 15 days our ancestors visit earth to see their children and they bless those who worship their ancestors. Brahmins perform Tarpan in the 15-day duration," said Chandraiyyar, a priest.
Devotees did not only perform Tarpan but they generously donated various things like clothes and food to the poor and needy people.
After offering prayers to their forefathers the pilgrims bathed at the 22 special springs inside the Arulmigu Ramanathaswamy Temple complex and offered prayers to the presiding Sri Ramanathaswamy.
"Purattasi Mahalayapatcha Ammavasai is an auspicious day as people perform rituals and offer prayers to their ancestors. Our forefathers stay happy when their family members offer Tarpan. So we have come to Rameswaram and bathed at the 22 special springs here. We also offered prayers to Lord Ramanathaswamy," said Venkatraman, a devotee.
Mahalaya is celebrated at the end of Shradh or Pitru Paksha, a 16-day period when Hindus pay homage to their ancestors.
It is believed that goddess Durga descended the Earth on Mahalaya which is celebrated by the Bengalis across the globe with much fervour and zeal. It is believed that mantras called 'Mahisasura Mardini' invoke the Goddess; the most famous one being 'Jago Tumi Jago.'
The occasion is associated with different practices and rituals. Many people perform 'tarpan' on this day to offer prayers to the departed souls of their ancestors and give 'bhog' to the Brahmins, along with food and materials to the needy. The day is considered auspicious because Goddess Durga, accomped by her children, is believed to have stepped on planet earth on this day.
It is from this day that the Durga Puja fever begins. Durga Puja starts from the seventh day after Mahalaya and ends on the tenth day of Dashami or Dussehra.
( With inputs from ANI )