Four million women expected to take part in Attukal Pongala

Thiruvananthapuram, Feb 8 (IANS) About four million women are expected to take part in the Attukal Pongala festival here on February 23 by cooking an offering of sweet dish sitting by the roadside, said a temple official on Monday.

“This time on the 23rd of this month, we are expecting four million women. Already this event has entered the Guinness Book (of World Records) where it has been mentioned as one event where the maximum number of women take part,” V.L. Vinod, president of the Attukal Bhagavathi Temple Trust here, told reporters.

Last year, an estimated 3.5 million women took part in the event.

Attukal Bhagavathi Temple here is the centre of the cooking event which takes place on the penultimate day of the 10-day-long festival.

The temple is dedicated to Attukal Bhagavathi goddess who is believed to be an incarnation of Kannaki, the central character of the Tamil epic “Silappathikaaram”.

The temple compound has the most sacred and desirable places for cooking ‘Pongala’, the offering of rice, jaggery and coconut. But those places disappear fast, reserved by women days before the cooking event of Attukal Pongala.

On the day of the event practically every road in a 10 km radius of the capital city is filled by women who sit and cook the Pongala.

The rituals begin around 10.30 a.m. when the chief priest of the temple light the makeshift stove with fire brought from the sanctum sanctorum.

The fire is then passed on to the women who line up on either side of the roads and cook their offering.

According to the legend, 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.

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