World’s Largest Gathering of Women at Attukal Devi Temple

The capital city of the state of Kerala in India, Trivandrum, is transformed into a sea of women devotees annually on the Pooram Nakshatram day in the Malayalam month of Kumbham (February – March). More than two million women participate in the Attukal Pongala ritual, which is the largest annual gathering of women in the world. All the women that have descended to Attukal in Trivandrum from various parts of Kerala, India and around the world are here to cook Pongala to Attukal Devi, an incarnation of Shakti.
The goddess worshipped at Attukal Bhagavathy Temple is Kannagi, who is an incarnation of Goddess Parvati, the consort of Lord Shiva. There is a popular belief that the Goddess showers her blessings on women and children. The Goddess as an incarnation of Kannagi suffered injustice and her suffering symbolizes the suffering of women in all ages – and the goddess provides strength to overcome all the impediments in life.
The 'Pongala' ritual comprises preparing ‘prasad’ for the deity. Women cook rice and jaggery in earthen pots and they offer it to the goddess. They also cook different type of sweet dishes – called ‘mandaputtu,’ ‘appam,’ ‘therali’ – made out of rice powder and jaggery. Coconut tree fronds are used to cook the ‘prasad.’
Fifty years ago the Pongala ritual was a small festival celebrated by the families in and around the Attukal village. Slowly, the power and fame of the Devi started spreading around as people started to find solace and peace in the Devi. This incarnation of Shakti soon started to attract thousands of Shaktis – women devotees. Today, 2.5 million Shaktis arrive to propitiate the Supreme Shakti – which is the life force behind all animate and inanimate.