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Attukal Pongala World’s Largest Gathering of Women

Every year in March or February, the Attukal Bhgavathy Temple in Trivandrum, Kerala, celebrates the world famous Attukal Pongala. It is estimated that more than two million women participate in this Hindu ritual called ‘pongala.’ Guinness World Records have certified it as the largest annual gathering of women in the world.

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.’

Women prepare the ‘prasad’ in the temple premises and in eight kilometer radius around the temple. The heart of the Trivandrum city including bus station, railway station and roads are filled with women on this day.
The goddess worshipped at Attukal temple is Kannagi who is the incarnation of Goddess Parvati, the consort of Lord Shiva. It is a place of Shakti worship.

Kannagi is the heroine of famous Tamil poem Silappathikaram - the Epic of the Anklet. The story has it that Kannagi’s husband Kovalan was unjustly put to death by the ruler of Madurai for stealing the anklet of the queen. Kannagi proves the innocence of her husband at the court and in anger sets the entire Madurai city on fire. She then leaves the city and on her way to Kodungalloor shrine stops at Attukal.

Legend has it that children and women of the area welcomed her and cooked for her porridge. The anger of Kannagi subsided and she appeared in the ever-loving motherly form. In memory of this event, women cook porridge for her every year.