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Attukal Pongala Story

Attukal Pongala ritual held at the Attukal Bhagavathy Temple at Attukal near Trivandrum in Kerala is the largest gathering of women in the world in a single place on a single day. The story of Attukal Pongala is associated with the Silappathikaram – the Epic of the Anklet. The Goddess worshipped at Attukal temple is Kannagi who is the incarnation of Goddess Parvati, the consort of Hindu God 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 Madurai city and departs for Kodungalloor – an important Shakti worship center.

Burning everything on her way, Goddess enters the place Attukal. No power in the world could stop her.

Legend has it that children and women of the Attukal 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.

The Origin of the Temple

It is said that the Goddess appeared as a child before an elderly man who was performing his evening oblations at the Killi River. The child wanted to cross the river but the old man was surprised to see a small girl at that odd time. So, he helped her in crossing the river and decided to take her home. Couple of minutes after reaching home, the young girl was not to be seen. During that night, Goddess appeared in the dream of the old man and told him that she had drawn three lines in a sacred grove nearby and she would like to reside there. Next morning, the old man went to the place and to his surprise found three marks at the suggested place. He built a small temple there and as time passed the Goddess brought prosperity to the region and the local people renovated the shrine to the present status.

People believe that the Goddess showers her blessings on women and children. She suffered injustice and her suffering symbolizes the suffering of women in all ages. The goddess provides strength to overcome the numerous impediments. Children like her because she appeared in the form of a child and the Goddess has a special place for children in her mind.

At the temple, Mother Goddess is worshipped both in child form and in woman form.