Attukal Pongala – World’s Largest Gathering of Women
Kerala is one state where you’ll find tremendous activities to be a part of. From extravagant Thaiyyam performances, colourful carnivals in Cochin to the cheerful Snake boat races and delightful rituals of Onam, everything is celebrated with great fervour and enthusiasm. These events in Kerala are very popular between tourists who come here to observe unique rituals and traditions.
Among an array of different festivals, beliefs and traditions, it is Attukal Pongala that has received a lot of attention among travellers and tourists alike. Organized in Attukal Devi’s temple in Trivandrum, the event is bedecked for the world’s largest annual gathering of women. The festival sees women devotees visiting from all corners of Kerala making the conglomeration massive. It has also been listed in the Guinness World Record with 2.5 million women attending it at one time in the year 2009.
Attukal Pongala is one of the must-attend festivals organized in Thiruvananthapuram, Kerala. This year, the dates for Attukal Pongala is from Feb 20th 2019.
Let’s find out some amazing highlights of the festival – Attukal Pongala
The myths behind the grand celebration
Attukal Bhagavathi Temple is owned and managed by the local Mulla Veettil family. It is said that one of their descendants had a dream in which the Goddess appeared and asked him to build a temple at a particular location.
Another story behind the temple’s origin is related to Kannaki, the Tamil mythological figure who burnt the entire city of Madurai in anger against the Pandya King who had killed her husband. Stories suggest that Kannaki stayed in Attukal temple en route Kodungaloor. This is where her cosmic rage was subdued.
Attukal Devi is powerful and compassionate towards her devotees. She hears the vows and feels the pain of those who come to visit her. Those who come here with a pure heart always get help in some form.
Attukal Bhagavathy temple timings are between 4:30 am to 12:30 pm and 5:00 pm – 8:30 pm on general days.
The attendance from women covers a 7 km radius around the temple.
The temple of Attukal Devi is not very huge to accommodate so many women at one time. But as the processions of female folks start arriving, the temple complex along with a 7 km radius outside is occupied for the festivities and rituals. The nearby streets, vacant land and playgrounds are used by the devotees where they perform the chores in tandem with the temple rituals.
The festival is celebrated in religious harmony.
The festival committee and the locals make the necessary arrangements to avoid disputes. The streets are filled with pots in which offering for the deity is prepared. These pots are also kept around the streets of a local mosque and in the open ground of a nearby church. This religious harmony is one of its kind that you’ll only see during this festival.
Pongala – The offering for the Goddess
Pongala in Malayalam means boiling over and refers to the act of making payasam or a similar offering to God. These offerings are supposed to be sweet. Pongala is conducted in the open air. At Attukal Pongala, the festival venue sees hundreds of thousands of fireplaces being prepared. Three stones (three blocks of bricks) are placed at a convenient location so that the pots receive enough heat and fire for the preparation of payasam. Dried wood or dried parts of coconut leaves are used for making fire. During Attukal Pongala, a holy fire is used to light up all the pots one by one.
Pongala is prepared using rice, coconut gratings, jaggery, sugar, banana, dry grapes, cashew nuts, honey, ghee, and cardamom. The Pongala starts from the time when the temple priest lights the first fireplace.
No men are allowed in the temple premises during the festival.
Attukal Bhagavathi Temple is 4 km away from Thiruvananthapuram railway station. On the festival day, the whole city becomes the courtyard of the temple. The most interesting part about this event is that it is known as women’s Sabarimala as no men are allowed to partake in the festival or step inside the temple complex. Women on the other hand not only come here from various parts of the state but also from around the globe as Keralites are spread in multiple countries and they never miss a chance to celebrate their festivals and rituals. No wonder, it has been proven that this festival is the largest gathering of women in Asia and even in the world.
Women are also supposed to follow the Attukal temple dress code wearing only traditional Indian clothes.
Experience Attukal Pongala with Thomas Cook
Being one of the unique festivals in Kerala makes Attukal Pongala a must visit. We, at Thomas Cook, assure you of a detailed plan for Kerala which will include the festival along with some of the must-visit places in the state. Our experience and local assistance will offer you a delightful journey across this beautiful state. You can also connect with our representatives for a custom plan and add places like Cochin, Alleppey, and Munnar to enjoy Kerala to the fullest.