Attukal Pongala Festival is one of the important festivals of Kerala, South India. It is celebrated in the premises of Attukal Bhagavathy Temple, located in Thiruvananthapuram city. The festival falls this year on 16th Feb 2014. (It will be telecasted on Amritha TV. ) 35 lakhs of women are expected to attend this festival. The famed pongala festival is the single largest congregation of women in the world, which has already made into the Guinness book of Records in 2009.
This famous festival is a 10-day programme commencing on the Karthika star day of Malayalam month Makaram-Kumbham, which usually falls in February-March. On the ninth day, the world famous Pongala Festival takes place in the temple premises, which spreads into 5 kms radius to accommodate the lakhs of women devotees coming there to prepare pongala offering. Ponkala ceremony is on the auspicious day of Pooram star which coincides with full moon. That day the whole city of Thiruvananthapuram takes a holy look.
What is pongala?
Pongala is a sweet dish called payasam, prepared with rice,jaggery, coconut, and plantains, which is instantly cooked in the earthern pots. The preparation would start in the early morning and by noon everything would be over. The main poojari comes and sprinkles the rose water on to the devotees and to their offerings, which indicates that Bhagavathy has gladly accepted their offerings.
The women do this offering for the well-being of their husband and children.
Though it is a Hindu festival, the other religious people nearby offer their premises also for pongala preparation.
According to the legends, Bhagavathy Attukalamma is considered as the incarnation of 'Kannaki', the heroine of 'Silappathikaram' by Tamil Poet Illango in 2nd century A.D. Attukal temple, is one of the places where Kannaki took rest on her journey from Madurai to Kodungallur.
"Attukal Pongala" has entered into the Guinness book of World Records for the largest women gathering in the world.
In the year 2014, it was estimated that almost 37 lakhs women participated in pongala festival at Attukal, which was spread over several kms distance. You won't find anywhere else in the world such a huge participation of women alone. Such a large gathering goes on peacefully with the proper management of the government and voluntary associations.
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