Attukal Pongala Event Date: February 25, 2024
The Attukal Pongala, hosted at Attukal Temple in Thiruvananthapuram, stands as the world’s largest gathering of women for a festival. Pongala, translating to ‘to boil over,’ is a ceremonial practice where women craft sweet payasam (rice, jaggery, coconut, and plantain pudding) and present it to the revered Goddess, known as ‘Bhagavathy’ or affectionately as ‘Attukalamma.’ Exclusive to women, this ritual transforms the city streets into bustling avenues filled with devoted attendees.
The Goddess is believed to be pleased by this offering, and the entire city of Thiruvananthapuram radiates with celebratory energy. The festival’s popularity has surged, earning it a place in the Guinness World Book of Records due to the overwhelming number of devotees. Truly, this experience is extraordinary and best appreciated firsthand to grasp its grandeur.
Pongala At Attukal Temple: The Largest Women’s Gathering Worldwide
Kerala offers a plethora of vibrant activities for those seeking engaging experiences. Whether it’s the grand Thaiyyam performances, lively carnivals in Cochin, the spirited Snake boat races, or the joyous rituals of Onam, every celebration is marked with exuberance and passion. These cultural events in Kerala attract tourists eager to witness the region’s distinctive rituals and traditions.
Amidst a diverse tapestry of festivals, beliefs, and traditions, it is the Attukal Pongala that captures the fascination of both travelers and tourists. Held at the Attukal Devi’s temple in Trivandrum, this event is renowned as the world’s largest annual gathering of women. Women devotees converge from every corner of Kerala, creating a massive congregation. The festival made history by entering the Guinness World Record in 2009, with a staggering 2.5 million women participating at the same time.
Attukal Pongala, held in Thiruvananthapuram, Kerala, is a festival that should not be missed. This year, mark your calendars for the Attukal Pongala on 25-02-2024.
Discover some incredible highlights of Attukal Pongala
The Origins of the Grand Celebration: The Attukal Bhagavathi Temple is under the ownership and management of the local Mulla Veettil family. According to one myth, a descendant of this family received a divine directive in a dream, where the Goddess appeared and instructed him to construct a temple at a specific location.
Another legend associated with the temple’s inception revolves around Kannaki, a Tamil mythological figure known for incinerating the city of Madurai in response to the death of her husband by the Pandya King. It is believed that Kannaki sought refuge at the Attukal temple on her way to Kodungaloor, where her celestial fury was pacified.
Attukal Devi is revered as a powerful and compassionate deity who listens to the vows and empathizes with the sorrows of her devotees. Those who approach her with sincere hearts are believed to receive assistance in various forms.
The Attukal Devi temple may not be expansive enough to host a large number of women simultaneously. However, as the processions of female devotees commence, the temple premises and an area extending 7 km in radius become filled with festivities and rituals. Devotees utilize nearby streets, empty plots of land, and playgrounds to carry out their chores in harmony with the temple rituals.
The festival committee and local residents collaborate to make essential preparations, ensuring a harmonious atmosphere. Streets are adorned with pots containing offerings for the deity, not only in proximity to the festival grounds but also around the premises of a local mosque and on the open grounds of a nearby church. This unique display of religious harmony is a phenomenon exclusively witnessed during this festival.
Pongala – A Sacred Offering to the Goddess
In Malayalam, “Pongala” translates to boiling over and signifies the ritual of preparing sweet offerings, such as payasam, for God. This sacred practice takes place outdoors, and during the Attukal Pongala festival, the venue witnesses the preparation of hundreds of thousands of fireplaces. Three stones, arranged conveniently, provide the necessary heat for cooking payasam. Dried wood or coconut leaves are used as fuel. In the course of Attukal Pongala, a sacred fire sequentially ignites each pot.
The Pongala mixture consists of rice, coconut gratings, jaggery, sugar, banana, dry grapes, cashew nuts, honey, ghee, and cardamom. The ritual commences when the temple priest kindles the inaugural fireplace.
During the festival at Attukal Bhagavathi Temple, men are strictly prohibited from entering the temple premises. Located 4 km away from Thiruvananthapuram railway station, the temple transforms the entire city into its sacred courtyard on the festival day. Renowned as the women’s Sabarimala, this event holds a unique charm, excluding men from participating in the festivities or entering the temple complex. Women, however, converge not only from various parts of the state but also from across the globe, as Keralites residing in different countries ensure they don traditional Indian attire, adhering to the Attukal temple dress code. This festival stands as the largest gathering of women in Asia and the world, underlining the global celebration of Kerala’s festivals and rituals.
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The Attukal Pongala, observed at Attukal Temple in Thiruvananthapuram, holds the distinction of being the world’s largest assembly of women for a festival. The term “Pongala,” signifying ‘to boil over,’ symbolizes the ceremonial preparation of sweet payasam—a delectable pudding crafted from rice, jaggery, coconut, and plantains—meticulously carried out by women. This offering is presented to the revered Goddess, affectionately known as ‘Attukalamma’ or ‘Bhagavathy.’ This unique ritual is exclusively undertaken by women, transforming the city’s streets into a vibrant sea of devoted followers during the festival.
The Goddess, pleased by this heartfelt offering, transforms Thiruvananthapuram into a radiant center of jubilation. The festival’s renown has reached such heights that it has earned a place in the Guinness World Records, owing to the ever-increasing number of devotees. Experiencing this remarkable event firsthand is indispensable to truly appreciate the full magnificence of the occasion.
Pongala takes center stage as the primary festival at Attukal Bhagavathy Temple, showcasing a unique temple ritual in the southern region of Kerala. Extending over ten days, the festivities commence during the Malayalam month of Makaram-Kumbham (February-March) under the auspicious Karthika star. The Pongala ceremony unfolds on the auspicious day of Pooram star, coinciding with the full moon.
The celebration begins with the “Kappukettu ceremony,” featuring the melodious narration of the Goddess’s tale (Kannaki Charitam). Designated families orchestrate these musical renditions, invoking the presence of Kodungallur Bhagavathy and recounting the defeat of the Pandyan King. This storytelling continues for the nine days leading up to Pongala. The climax, where the Goddess vanquishes the Pandyan King, resonates with the thunderous beats of temple drums and fervent “Vaykurava” chants by devotees. This intense moment is promptly followed by the lighting of hearths for the preparation of offerings to the Goddess.
The festival symbolizes the triumph of Good over Evil through the demise of the Pandyan King. Amidst the celebration, a festive ambiance prevails, complemented by solemn practices such as regular Bhajans, musical concerts, and ballets portraying folk and temple arts within the temple grounds. This intricate blend underscores the interconnectedness of human and divine affairs. The colorful processions featuring deity-themed floats, paraded with grandeur and devotion by congregating devotees, contribute to an enchanting and uplifting experience within the temple precincts.
On the ninth day of the festival, it appears that every thoroughfare in and around Thiruvananthapuram city converges at the Attukal Temple. A radius of approximately 7 kilometers encircling the temple undergoes a sacred transformation, as homes representing people from diverse castes, creeds, and religions, as well as open fields, roads, and commercial establishments, become the focal point for the Pongala ritual. This exclusive ceremony for women draws thousands of devotees from various parts of Kerala and beyond.
The mesmerizing spectacle unfolds as a multitude of women spanning different age groups, transcending distinctions of caste, color, and creed, inundate the area well in advance. Many of them adeptly balance essential materials like firewood, earthen pots, rice, jaggery, coconut, and more on their heads. These items are crucial for demarcating specific spaces where they will craft offerings for the Goddess.
A pivotal element of the ‘Pongala’ ritual involves the preparation of rice and various sweet dishes using open hearths and earthen pots. The chief priest of the temple signals the propitious moment to ignite the hearth, commencing the ceremony. The Thidappally temple buzzes with activity as the hearth is kindled, a moment mirrored at Thidappally by the Melsanthi and at Panadara Aduppu and Saha Melsanthi.
The ritual culminates as temple priests sprinkle holy water in the evening, accompanied by an aerial display of flowers to honor and glorify the Goddess Almighty. The temple authorities coordinate with voluntary agencies, local residents, festival committee members, and government departments to facilitate the well-being of the vast congregation. Together with the assistance of police and dedicated volunteers, they maintain law and order in the area. The massive turnout at this event echoes the sizable gatherings seen during the Kumbha Mela festival in North India.
Event date: 25-02-2024
Venue: Attukal Bhagavathi Temple
Attukal Bhagavathy Temple Trust
P.B.No. 5805. Manacaud P.O., Thiruvananthapuram – 695 009, Kerala, South India.
Phone: +91-471- 2463130 (Off) 2456456 (Temple)
Email : email@example.com