Millions of Hindus perform Pongala

published on February 22, 2008

THIRUVANANTHAPURAM: Millions of Hindu devotees offered Pongala to Attukal Devi Temple in one of world’s biggest Hindu devotional congregations of women today, turning the whole city into a virtual sea of women. Cutting across caste, class, women converged to cook the Prasadam of rice and jaggery in fresh earthen pots on make-shift hearths, seeking the blessing of the presiding Goddess of the shrine. Devotees squatted in rows on city roads, streets and by-lanes hours before the ritual began at 10.00 am, when the ‘holy hearth’ near the temple was lighted by the chief priest. Within seconds, the fire exchanged hands and thousands of hearths were lit making the rice-filled pots bubble and boil over. The cooked rice was later sprinkled with holy water by sub-priests at 3 pm. Elaborate crowd control and security arrangements had been made by police and state agencies for the event. Police personnel and a big contingent of fire tenders had been deployed in an area of seven kms around the shrine, where the devotees converged to perform the ritual. Apart from Government aid, thousands of Seva Bharati volunteers also engaged to make sure the safety of woman devotees and providing them food, water and medical aid.

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