25 lakh women offer Pongala at Attukal

via Pioneer News Service | Thiruvananthapuram published on March 3, 2007

Women devotees numbering 25 lakh offered Pongala to the goddess of Attukal Bhagavathy temple on Saturday in the annual festival that has made it to the Guinness Book of World Records as the religious event with the largest women gathering.


 


 


Braving the scorching sun, devotees from various walks of life, including foreigners offered Pongala at the temple premises and on the streets of the capital city. Women had prepared their Pongala hearths in an area within a 10 km radius of the Attukal temple. The festival sees women preparing Pongala on a brick hearths with rice and jaggery under instructions from the temple as an offering to the goddess. The main Pongala hearth at the temple was lit at 10.45 am on Saturday and the ritual was declared over at 2.45 pm. The ritual comes to a close with the priests sprinkling holy water on each and every Pongala prepared throughout the city. The ceremony closed two hours earlier this year due to a lunar eclipse.


 


Attukal Bhagavathi Temple Trust president R Gopinathan Nair said that the number of devotees arriving for the Pongala festival had been rising each year. He said that the total number of devotees who offered Pongala at the temple last year was 17 lakh. This year, an estimated 25 lakh women took part. “It is generally seen that a devotee, who gets a chance to offer Pongala at the temple, would surely bring some of her relatives or friends when she comes here next year,” he said.


 


Barbara, a physiotherapist from Switzerland , agrees with Nair’s claim. The 56 year-old physiotherapist who is a regular visitor to the Pongala festival, said that for the last three years, she had been visiting the Attukal temple during Pongala. “As far as the hot climate of Kerala is concerned, one cannot withstand it. But if you are deeply interested in a topic, you never feel exhausted,” she said. Barbara had also brought with her a group of young enthusiastic students interested in witnessing the Pongala festival.


 


The Pongala festival sees showering of flowers by a helicopter at the culmination of the Pongala offering.The Government had deployed 4,000 policemen and 1,000 policewomen in the city to ensure the smooth conduct of the festival. Apart from the police cover, the Government had arranged emergency healthcare and transportation facilities in view of the event.


 

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