Attukal pongala makes it to Guinness Book

via newindpress.com published on October 12, 2006

T’PURAM: The pongala festival at the Attukal Bhagavathy temple has found a place in the Guinness Book of World Records.

The festival, which draws millions of women devotees every year to the temple, has been included in the category of events attended by more than a million people in the latest edition of the Guinness Book.

The Temple trust received a communique in this regard last week. “We got a letter from the Guinness Book authorities the other day. There will be a formal function soon to announce the rare honour,” secretary K P Ramachandran Nair told this website’s newspaper.

The trust authorities view this as a blessing of Attukal Devi.

According to mythology, Attukal Bhagavathy is supposed to be the divine form of Kannaki, the famous heroine of Chilapathikaram, written by Tamil poet Elenkovadikal.

The story goes that after the destruction of the ancient city of Madurai, Kannaki left the city and reached Kerala via Kanyakumari and on her way to Kodungalloor, took a sojourn at Attukal.

Kannaki is supposed to be the incarnation of Parvathy, the consort of Paramasiva.

The Pongala festival is the most important festival of Attukal Bhagavathy temple. The offering of pongala is a special temple practice prevalent in the southern part of the state and some parts of Tamil Nadu.

The ten-day festival commences on the Karthika star of the Malayalam month of Makaram-Kumbham (February-March) and concludes with the sacrificial offering known as kuruthitharpanam at night.

The pongala is offered on the ninth day of the festival, which falls on the Karthika star.

A five-km radius around the temple is occupied by the devotees who offer pongala to their favourite deity.

It is also regarded as a secular festival as the premises of houses of people of all caste and religion, and government offices too, in the area emerge as a consecrated ground for observing the pongala rituals for the lakhs of women devotees.

The ceremony is exclusively confined to women. On March 13, 2006, more than a million devotees gathered at Attukal to offer pongala. It is this fete that helped the temple to find a Guinness entry

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