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Villagers of Tamil Nadu and Andhra Pradesh came together on Tuesday to organise the ‘Aadi Perukku’ festival at Kanakanatchiamman Koil situated near the Palar river at Perumpallam in Chittoor district.

The temple, located in Andhra Pradesh, was constructed and maintained by villagers of the three panchayats bordering Vellore district in Tamil Nadu — Pullur, Avarankuppam and Thimmampet — for many years. Recently, the A.P. government took over the temple leading to an uneasy calm in the border villages.

However, tension was defused when people of both the States joined hands to organise the festival. A festival organising committee was formed with representatives from the two States — six from Andhra Pradesh and seven from Tamil Nadu — according to Kanakaraj, one of the committee members. On Tuesday, a sea of devotees landed at the temple, excited about walking on the check dam that was brimming with water following rains last week.

Announcements in Tamil and Telugu, signboards in both the languages, and government staff from both the States bore testimony to the coordinated effort. “We approached officials and elected representatives when the issue of temple ownership surfaced. But all of them washed their hands of the issue saying the land was in Andhra and nothing could be done,” Mr. Kanakaraj said.

Soon, officials of Andhra Pradesh convened a meeting at Kuppam in whichTamil Nadu villagers also participated. It was then decided to work together and organise the festival peacefully and ensure all facilities were in place for devotees, he noted.

He added that this was the first time that villagers from both sides have worked to organise the festival. “Police, fire and health departments from both the States are here. Fire service personnel have come up with safety arrangements, while medical camps are being organised by both the States,” he said.

Nasappan, a resident of Perumpallam (Andhra) and another member of the committee was happy that the united effort paid off. “Till last year, I came here as a devotee. Now, I am part of the organising team. We want to stay together and ensure better facilities for the devotees and develop the temple,” he said.

He added that the inflow of devotees was good. The A.P. government had provided funds for the festival, while senior officials of Vellore and Chittoor had visited the temple to review the arrangements.