Attukal Pongala – The Sabrimala for women

Thiruvananthapuram: The Attukal Pongala is an event to behold. A festival that hosts the largest single gathering of women for a religious activity has entered the Guiness Book of World Records.

Celebrated in the capital of Kerala, Thiruvananthapuram witnesses the entire city turning into a sea of devotion to during the the Pongala festival to celebrate at the Attukal Bhagavathy Temple.

The residing deity of the Attukal Bhagavathy Temple is – the Goddess – popularly known as Attukal Amma. The festival referred to as Pongala (literally means to boil over) – meant to appease Amma is a ritualistic offering of a sweet dish consisting of rice porridge, sweet brown, molasses, coconut gratings, nuts and raisins.

Interestingly the Pongala ritual only allow women to participate. Right from the night before the festival, thousands of women, regardless of religious faith, assemble at the temple premises and on eith sides of the roads leading to it, in preparation for the offering.

“Many of us have been staying at the road sides for the last two nights… We take turns to rest. These hardships are nothing in comparison to the blessings we recieve from Attukal Amma” said Pushpalatha, Area secretary, Nandancode Jansree Unit.

Devotees irrespective of religion from across the country and even from abroad can participate in the ritual.

An equally impressive effort will be mounted, as every year, to clean up the city after the devotees exit. The city corporation will mobilise 1,000 of its sanitation workers for the purpose. The Attukal Pongala festival that witnesses reputedly the largest congregation of women at one place is going green from this year.

In addition, more than 1,500 workers are being deployed on daily wage basis for the clean-up.

The local body will make available 20 of its own trucks and 35 rented ones for ferrying out waste comprising remains of material that goes into making the open hearths, and assorted stuff.

By the night, the roads will be washed clean of any charred remains thereof.