Trivandrum Attukal Pongala Festival – World’s Largest Congregation of Women



A unique Hindu festival, Attukal Pongala is an annual congregation of more than a million women to offer Pongala to Attukal Devi, an incarnation of Shakti, the Mother Goddess in Hinduism. Pongala, or Ponkala, is an offering of boiled rice in earthern pot. Attukala Pongala has entered the Guinness Book of World Records as the largest gathering of women in the world. Attukal Temple is located in Trivandrum, Kerala, and the deity is popularly referred as Attukal Amma.

In 2012, Attukal Pongala is on March 7.

Attukal Pongala takes place during the Malayam month of Kumbham (February-March). Millions of women gather on the day to cook Pongala. They arrive from different parts of India and from around the world. Each woman makes a hearth and cooks Pongala. Women also cook sweet dishes made out of jaggery and rice powder like – mandaputtu, appam and therali. The cooking ritual begins around 10.30 in morning and is completed with the sprinkling of theertham (sacred water from the temple) around 1530 hrs.

Why do women gather in such large numbers? Most of the women make pongala to receive the blessings of Amma. Some do it for the welfare of her family. Some do it for favors received. Some do it for material gains. Some do it routinely. Each woman has a reason of her own. It is said that Attukal Amma never disappoints her devotees.

From a temple ritual, Attukal Pongala has now transformed into a celebration of womanhood. It is the celebration of Shakti – the one Mother, creator of all things or the primeval energy of the Universe that derives all divine and cosmic evolution. From her everything that exists was born to her all things will return. All animate and inanimate are her creations and she sustains them. She has a myriad forms - loving mother, girl, lover, sister, wife and the terrible that can annihilate. It is this Shakti, the great Mother goddess known by countless names, that is worshipped by millions of her representatives on the Earth on Attukal Pongala.