Women arrive in large numbers in Kerala capital ahead of ‘Attukal Pongala’ on 25 February

Preparing 'pongala' is considered an auspicious all-women ritual as part of the annual festival of the Attukal temple in Thiruvananthapuram.

ByPTI

Published Feb 24, 2024 | 7:15 PMUpdatedFeb 24, 2024 | 7:15 PM

Woman celebrating Attukal Pongala

Women have begun arriving in large numbers in the state capital from across Kerala and even the neighbouring states to celebrate the famous “Attukal Pongala” festival in Thiruvananthapuram on Sunday, 25 February.

The festival, which witnesses the convergence of thousands of women devotees, involves the preparation of offerings on brick hearths lining the roads of the city for the presiding deity of the Attukal Bhagavathy temple in Thiruvananthapuram.

Thousands of women were present at the temple on Saturday from early morning to get a glimpse of the deity.

One woman told a TV channel that she was from Palakkad, while another standing close to her said she was from Bengaluru.

Women have been arriving in the state capital since Thursday, 22 February, to grab good spots for setting up their brick hearths where they will prepare “pongala”— a mix of rice, jaggery, and scraped coconut — or various other kinds of sweet delicacies in fresh earthen or metal pots.

The pongala festival marks the finale of a 10-day ritual at the shrine.

Preparing “pongala” is considered an auspicious all-women ritual as part of the annual festival of the Attukal temple in Thiruvananthapuram, popularly known as the “Women’s Sabarimala”.

As per a local legend, the annual festival commemorates the hospitality accorded by women in the locality to Kannagi, the divine incarnation of the protagonist of the Tamil epic Silappadhikaram while she was on her way to avenge the injustice meted out to her husband Kovalan, after destroying Madurai city.

Communal harmony: Churches change Sunday worship timings in view of ‘Attukal Pongala’

Communal harmony

This year’s “Pongala” is in the news for another reason also — churches here have changed their worship timings for Sunday to accommodate the huge number of devotees expected to turn up on that day to celebrate the festival.

Besides changing the worship timings, some churches will also open their grounds and even some portions of their buildings for those celebrating the “pongala”.

In order to ensure that the festival is celebrated in a safe and clean manner, the Kerala government’s Suchitwa Mission has issued a set of green protocols.

The central thrust of the “green pongala” campaign is to avoid single-use plastics and other kinds of disposables, including paper products, during the festival.

Only steel plates and steel glasses should be used for the distribution of food and drinking water, the Suchitwa Mission, a Technical Support Group (TSG) in the waste management sector under the Local Self Government Department, had said a day ago.

To increase awareness about the green protocols, a hashtag campaign with posters has been mounted on social media highlighting the central theme and the guidelines to be followed by organisers of food distribution drives, shop owners and voluntary groups, it said.

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