Lakhs of women offer pongala in Kerala

Festival fervour

Annual affair: Cutting across class, caste and religious barriers, thousands of devotees congregated around the Attukal Bhagavathy temple in Thiruvananthapuram on Saturday to perform the annual ceremony of cooking a rice-jaggery mix in fresh earthen pots as their offering to the presiding deity of the shrine.  Photo courtesy/Janmabhumi

The event takes place on the penultimate day of the 10-day Attukal Pongala festival. The offering is prepared using rice,  jaggery and coconut in earthen pots at makeshift hearths near the temple and on the surrounding roads.

Saturday’s festivities began  around 11 am with the lighting of the hearth at the temple by the chief priest, followed by chendamelam (percussion) and fireworks.

The fire was then passed on to every other hearth where the pongala offering was to be cooked. Around 3 pm, priests came out to sprinkle holy water on the offerings cooked by the devotees. Like every year, film and TV personalities and foreign nationals were also seen preparing the offering.

The ritual had already got into the Guinness Book of World Records for being the largest religious congregation of women with an estimated 25 lakh participation in 1997. This time, the organisers claimed the figure has exceeded 30 lakh.

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