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Importance Of Pongala In Hindu Temples In Kerala

Pongala is a significant ritual in Hindu temples dedicated to Mother Goddess Shakti – Bhagavathi or Devi in Kerala, India. The word "Pongala" in Malayalam means "to boil over" or "spill over." The ritual involves the preparation of a special offering called "Pongala" by women devotees. This offering is a sweet dish made of rice, jaggery, coconut, and ghee, and it is cooked in earthen pots. The ingredients are mixed together, and the cooking is done by placing the pots on makeshift brick stoves.

The Pongala festival is mainly associated with the Attukal Bhagavathy Temple in Thiruvananthapuram, Kerala, which holds the Guinness World Record for the largest gathering of women for a single religious event. However, the Pongala ritual is also observed in various other temples across Kerala.

The festival usually takes place during the Malayalam month of Kumbham (February-March) and attracts a large number of female devotees. The uniqueness of the Pongala ritual lies in the fact that women, irrespective of caste, creed, or religion, participate in it with deep devotion. They prepare the Pongala offering in the open, along the roadsides, and in temple premises.

The belief is that the Pongala offering, once it reaches a certain level of cooking, is considered as an offering to the presiding deity of the temple. The cooked Pongala is then taken to the temple and offered to the deity, seeking blessings for the well-being of the family and other personal wishes. The entire process is accompanied by traditional rituals, prayers, and cultural programs.

The Pongala festival is known for promoting a sense of unity and social harmony, as women from various backgrounds come together to participate in the ritual. It is a unique cultural and religious event that showcases the rich tradition and diversity of Kerala.