Thousands witnessed pole climbing event, a rural sport conducted as part of annual Masi festival, at Mariamman Temple in Natham near here on Tuesday.

Devotees carried fire pots and took out a procession to the temple. They prepared pongal on the temple premises and displayed ‘mavilakku’ before the presiding deity.

The festival organisers prepared an ‘agni gundam’ (fire path) for the fire walk ceremony. A few tonnes of firewood was burnt to lay the fire path, said temple officials.

Residents of Gandhinagar had prepared a well-polished trunk of an eucalyptus tree for the pole climbing event. Aloe juice and castor oil were applied to make it more slippery. Participants from Kamaraj Nagar struggled for hours to climb it.

They used wet towels to gain grip to reach the top and grab neem leaves tied at the tip of the pole. After hours of struggle, a youth grabbed the leaves.

There were devotees from Chennai, Tiruchi, Madurai and Tirunelveli districts.

Around 15,000 devotees entered into the agni gundam.

The 15-day festival commenced on February 27.