More than 25 lakh Women to offer Pongala to Attukalamma today

published on March 9, 2009



Attukal Pongala fest today

PNS | Thiruvananthapuram

More
than 25 lakh women are expected for the annual Pongala festival on
Tuesday at Attukal Devi temple here, which had earned an entry into the
Guinness Book of World Records as the largest convergence f women at
one place. More than 20 lakh women devotees had participated in the
festival last year.

Thousands of women had reached the temple
premises on Monday itself to ensure the best place to offer Pongala to
the goddess. Office-bearers of the Attukal Bhagawathy Temple Trust said
here that women would set up Pongala hearths from the temple to
Palayam, Pappanamcode, Thiruvallam and Chakka in various directions.

The
Aduppukoottu ritual, preparation of the main hearth at the temple,
marking the commencement of the Pongala festival would be at 10.30 am
Tuesday. Flowers would be showered on the devotees from an aircraft
after this.

About 200 priests from various temples would be
deployed to sprinkle holy water at 2.45 pm on the Pongala offerings
made by the women devotees. The priests could be identified from the
cloth bands with the ABTT emblem worn by them. Residents’ associations
with coupons issued by the trust would take the priests to various
areas.

The trust asked devotees not to wear gold ornaments in view of the possibility of theft amid the heavy rush.

Trust
officials said 1,000 women would offer Pongala on Tuesday in Pune in
Maharashtra. The Pune Attukal Bhagawathy Charitable Trust was
organizing the event for the third year in succession.

Devotees
across the world could view Pongala on the temple website
www.attukal.org. Video feeds would be streamed from 10 am to 11.30 am
and 2.00 pm to 3.30 pm on Tuesday. The recorded version could be viewed
online for a month.

The trust had made arrangements for the sale
of Aravana Prasadam in sealed containers on Monday and Tuesday through
counters put up by Dhanalakshmi Bank at East Fort, Thampanoor and
Killipalam in the capital, costing Rs 40 each.

The
Thiruvananthapuram city police would not allow roadside parking of
vehicles, including two-wheelers within a three-km radius of the
Attukal Devi temple for Pongala on Tuesday. Assistant Commissioner of
Police, Traffic (South), B Varghese said the rule would apply to
residents and traders. More than 300 constables were deployed in the
festival area from 5.30 am Monday, and they were working in six-hour
shifts.

The various Government departments had completed their
arrangements for receiving the devotees well in advance. Arrangements
had been made to provide basic amenities, including food, drinking
water and medical facilities for the devotees. The Health Department
had made elaborate arrangements for the smooth conduct of the festival.
Five medical teams with ambulances and a special team for the benefit
of Kuthiyottam participants had also been arranged. The department had
also made arrangements for collecting and testing food and water
samples and conducting surprise checks in hotels on the festival days.

It
is believed that Attukal Bhagavathy, the deity of the temple, is an
avatar of Kannaki, the heroine of Tamil epic, Silappathikaram.
According to the local ballads, after destroying Madurai, Kannaki
traveled to Kerala where she rested for a while at Attukal before
moving on.

There is another belief among the locals of
Thiruvananthapuram that Attukal Bhagavathi temple – located a couple of
kilometers off the southern end of Thiruvananthapuram city – was built
centuries ago by the head of a prominent local family who had a vision
of the Goddess in a dream. In this vision, the goddess is believed to
have instructed the devotee to construct a temple, dedicated to her in
a sacred grove at Attukal.

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