Pongala, or Ponkala, is a unique ritual performed by women in Bhagavathy temples in Kerala. The ritual comprises preparing ‘prasad’ for the Devi – women cook rice and jaggery in earthen pots and they offer it to the goddess. In 2013, Chakkulathu Kavu Pongala is on December 15. Bhagavathy or Devi is a divine incarnation of Shakti. Chakkulathu Kavu Pongala takes place at
near Thiruvalla in Kerala and attracts lakhs of women. Chakkulathukavu Bhagavathy Temple
The most famous Pongala is held at the
Attukal Bhagavathy Temple in , Kerala, and Guinness World Records have certified it as the largest annual gathering of women in the world. Trivandrum
Chakkulathu Kavu Pongala is based on a legend in which the Goddess herself prepared food for a hunter and his family. The hunter and his family always set apart a part of their food as an offering to their goddess. One day they were very late to return home after collecting wood in the jungle. They felt extremely sad that they could not submit the daily part of their food to the Devi.
Soon they prayed for forgiveness and rushed to cook food. But they found to their utter surprise that all the earthen pots in the home were filled with cooked food. They knew for certain that it was the Goddess Herself who cooked the food for them.
Women devotees prepare food for the goddess in the Malayalam month of Vrischikam (November – December) in remembrance of this divine legend.
The chief priest of the Chakkulathu Kavu temple lights the main hearth from a lamp inside the sanctum sanctorum. This fire is exchanged from one over to another.