Tuesday, February 23, 2016

Attukal Pongala festival begins; Around 40 lakh women devotees

Attukal Pongala festival begins; Around 40 lakh women devotees take part

popngalaThiruvananthapuram: Women devotees in huge numbers have turned up to take part in the 10-day Attukal Pongala festival that began at the Attukal Bhagavathi temple here on Tuesday.
Women from Kerala and outside had started arriving in large numbers on Monday to take part in the festival.
Tuesday’s main event, women cooking an offering of a sweet dish sitting by the roadside around the temple, began in the morning.
“We are expecting around 40 lakhs of women women devotees. By now all vantage positions in and around the temple and the roads leading to it have been taken over by women,” said an official of the Attukal Bhagavathi Temple Trust that conducts the festivities.
The temple is dedicated to Attukal Bhagavathi, a goddess believed to be an incarnation of Kannaki, the central character of Tamil epic “Silappathikaaram”.
Around 3,500 policemen were deployed by Tuesday morning and they have already taken up positions and are guiding traffic movement.
The state government had announced a half-day holiday on Monday and a full day holiday on Tuesday in Thiruvananthapuram district.
Even the Assembly session has been given a two-day break.
The rituals began around 10.30 a.m. on Tuesday, with the temple’s chief priest lighting the makeshift stove with fire brought from the sanctum sanctorum.
The fire was then passed on to the women who were lining up on either side of the road to cook their offering.
By 1.30 p.m. when the holy water from the temple is sprayed by specially appointed priests, the women then pack up and return.
According to legends, Kannaki destroyed Madurai in Tamil Nadu after the king of Madurai wrongfully imposed the death penalty on her husband.
After that, Kannaki travelled to Kerala, where she rested for a while at Attukal where women were said to have cooked Pongala to please her.
The festival has become so famous that even Christian women take part in the festivities, as also a good number of foreign women tourists.


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