Amaravathi, Jan 12: Sankranti time is the coldest period of the winter season in South India. But it is quite hot in this ancient village of Buddhism. And for the 90,000 and odd Buddhist pilgrims from Tibet, Dharmasala and different parts of the world, the scorching summer has already set in.
The maximum temperature in Amaravathi, located on the picturesque banks of the river Krishna, was just 24 degrees Celsius with the minimum showing at 18 degrees C. For the local population numbering around 2400, it is wintry chill and to beat the cold they are wearing woolen sweaters.
Just a few steps away from the village, thousands of people are seen holding plastic hand-fans and drinking chilled soft drinks to beat the heat. The pilgrims, who outnumber the local villagers by at least 40 times, are used to extremely low temperatures in their native lands. Those from Lhasa (Tibet) have never experienced the real summer of the South India, for them the maximum temperature ever recorded was just 12.2 degrees, which is six degrees lower than the minimum temperature they are now exposed to in Amaravathi.
Pilgrims from Dharmasala or the Little Lhasa of India are also at discomfort over the high winter temperature in this part of the country.
Even Buddhist spiritual leader Dalai Lama, who has been supervising the Kalachakra rituals in Amaravathi since January 5, expressed concern over the hot temperature. I want to deliver my discourses only during the morning hours. It is very hot and you people cannot withstand the heat, he told the participants after he noticed them using hand fans.
Little children and old people are the worst hit. The children were seen crying unable to withstand the high temperature. Many mothers used wet cloths to wipe on the bodies of their children to beat the heat. The old drank lots of orange juice and ate ice creams.
And in the process the people who benefited the most from the Amaravathi summer were the local shop-keepers. They sold thousands of soft drink, mineral water and fruit juice bottles as the Buddhist pilgrims made a queue at the shops.
We do not sell soft drinks leave alone ice creams during winter. But during the past eight days we had to make several orders for fresh stocks. Ice cream and ordinary ice cubes are in great demand, a local trader Subba Rao told this correspondent.
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