Saturday, February 19, 2011

Attukal Pongala

                     Today is Attukal Pongala at the Attukal Temple in Thiruvananthapuram, Kerala. Attukal Pongala is the main festival of this temple. Millions of women gather every year in the month of kumbham around this temple and prepare pongala (rice cooked with jaggery, ghee, cocnut as well as other ingredients) in the open in small pots to please the Goddess Kannaki. During the festival nearly five kilometres around the temple become covered with smoke from the 'aduppu's (temporary hearths made of 3 to 9 bricks). A holiday is declared in the city on that day. Tourists from other countries also participate in the festival.
                  The festival has gained international attention since it was listed by the Guinness book of world record as the "largest annual gathering of women" in the world. The record was based on the number of pilgrims on 23 February 1997, when 1.5 million assembled to offer pongala to Attukal Devi. It is estimated that 3 million women attended the 2010 edition of the festival.
                   Fifty years ago the Pongala ritual was a small festival celebrated by the families in and around the Attukal village. Slowly, the power and fame of the Devi started spreading around as people started to find solace and peace in the Devi. This incarnation of Shakti soon started to attract thousands of Shaktis .

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