Millions of women devotees expected at Kerala temple on Sunday
Upwards of four million women devotees are expected to cook an offering as part of the famed Attukal Pongala festival to be held here Sunday, the organisers said.
More than four million took part last year and the organisers expect the numbers to rise this year.
The temple located in the heart of the city is dedicated to Attukal Bhagavathi, believed to be an incarnation of Kannaki, the central character of the Tamil epic "Silappathikaaram".
The pongala event takes place on the penultimate day of the 10-day-long Attukal Pongala festival, which is often referred to as the equivalent of the Sabarimala pilgrimage, but for women.
Women line up on either sides of the roads leading up to the temple compound and cook their offering using rice, jaggery and coconut.
The state government declared a half-holiday Saturday for the organisers to make the arrangements.
According to legend, Kannaki destroyed Madurai in Tamil Nadu after the king of Madurai wrongfully imposed the death penalty on her husband.
After that, Kannaki travelled to Kerala, where she rested for a while at Attukal and women are said to have cooked pongala to please her.
The women who take part in this festival dress up in brand new clothes and arrive with pots and raw materials needed for cooking the offering.
The chief priest of the temple will first lights a pot with the fire brought from the sanctum sanctorum of the temple Sunday morning. The flame is then passed on to all the kilns that the women have set up on either side of the roads.
The state owned transport department and the Indian Railways have made special arrangements for the travellers.
"This is an event that many Hindu women eagerly wait for, as over the years women who have experienced the event have tales of how their wishes came true after taking part in the annual offering," said Sreelatha Menon, a state government employee.
(Posted on 15-02-2014)