Lakhs of women offer Pongala for goddess

via PNS | Alappuzha published on November 21, 2010

More than 500,000 women devotees on Sunday prepared and offered Pongala (rice porridge) to the goddess of Chakkulathukavu temple, also known as the Sabarimala of Women, at Neerettupuram in Kerala’s Alappuzha district. The women prepared the Pongala in fresh earthen pots with rice and jaggery on hearths set in the temple courtyard and the streets.

The Pongala festival on Sunday started at 9.00 am with chief priest Radhakrishnan Namboothiri kindling the main hearth, where the temple’s own Pongala was prepared, with the Diya brought from the sanctum sanctorum. Following this, lakhs of women from all religions and social strata kindled their hearths set on all roads leading out of the temple in a 20-km radius to prepare Pongala.

The Pongala festival at Chakkulathukavu temple was being held on the Karthika day of month Vrischikam of the Malayalam calendar every year. The festival rituals were inaugurated by Kummanam Rajasekharan, general secretary, Hindu Aikya Vedi.

With the ritual of offering the Pongala from the main hearth to the goddess in the sanctum sanctorum, more than 300 priests sprinkled water on the lakhs of hearths, making it the divine Prasadam of the deity. More than 10,000 volunteers were deployed for the smooth conduct of the Pongala ritual.

The KSRTC, Fire and Rescue Services, Health Department, Kerala Water Authority and Water Transport Department had opened special units at Neerettupuram for the festival. The KSRTC operated special bus services to the temple from Thiruvalla, Changanassery, Kottayam, Ernakulam, Thiruvananthapuram, Kottarakkara, Pathanamthitta, Harippad, Alappuzha, etc.

As many as 500 police personnel were deployed under the Thiruvalla and Chengannur Deputy Superintendents of Police for crowd management. A special police control room had been opened near the temple.

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