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December 15, 2018
A familiar scene greets people of Nagulapalli village in Munagapaka mandal of Visakhapatnam district every Saturday. About a 100, neatly dressed children gather together in the evening to celebrate the Sri Venkateswara Swamy pallaki procession in all the streets of the village. With most of the villagers coming together to participate, the event goes beyond a simple religious occasion as it gets linked with spirituality, social and cultural involvement as well.
On that day, all the streets are clean and tidy. No one consumes alcohol and even villagers vie to prepare the prasadam! After a head bath, at about 6 pm, approximately 100 children neatly dressed in their kolatam uniform, gather at the temple to first perform puja to Sri Venkateswara Swamy, Sridevi, and Bhudevi. Then some children carry the pallaki while the others perform kolatam in front of the pallaki. This procession goes into all the streets. By 9 PM, they return to the temple and do bhajana. Offerings given by devotees are then counted and handed over to the youth club, which also serves as the management committee, and gives prasadam to the children.
Nagulapalli is one of the 68 villages where BCT introduced this system. With the BCT Residential school children teaching kolatam to 13000 children across villages, the programme is helping achieve objectives of sanitation, cleanliness, hygiene, and health, as it promotes good habits in the villages.