At world's largest all-women religious gathering, thousands offer 'Pongala' at Attukal Bhagavathy temple

Written by PTI | Thiruvananthapuram, | Updated: Feb 27 2013, 03:32am hrs
Braving stifling heat, thousands of women devotees cutting across caste and class lines participated in the annual 'pongala' ritual of the famed Attukal Bhagavathy temple here today.

Considered to be one of the world's largest all-women religious gatherings, with an average of 2.5 million devout attending, the event has found its way into Guinness Book of World Records due to its uniqueness.

Cooking rice-jaggery mix in fresh earthen pots and offering it to the presiding goddess of the shrine is the main part of the ritual.

Though it was purely a local festival in the past, over the last few decades 'pongala' has become a major religious event with devotees occupying highways and bylanes in a seven-km radius around the temple to make the offering.

Faithful from different parts of the state and neighbouring Tamil Nadu districts like Kanyakumari and Tirunelveli took part in the festival this time.

A burst in the pipeline carrying drinking water to the city yesterday had caused concern, but the government made necessary arrangements for the supply of water.

A high-level probe into the pipe burst incident has been ordered as it happened on the eve of the festival and in four places.

According to local legend, 'pongala' festival commemorates the hospitality accorded by women in the locality to 'Kannagi', a divine incarnation in Tamil epic 'Silappatikaram.'