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'Pongala' is the most important festival of Attukal Bhagavathy Temple. The offering of Pongala is a very special temple practice in the southern part of Kerala. The ten-day- long celebration commences in the Malayalam month of Makaram-Kumbham (Feb - March)on the Karthika star. Pongala ceremony is on the auspicious day of Pooram star which coincides with full moon. The festival commences with the musical rendering of the story of the Goddess (Kannaki Charitam) during the "Kappukettu ceremony". The musical renderinngs are conducted by the families authorised for this purpose.  The story invokes the presence of Kodungallur Bhagavathy and the slaying of the Pandyan King. The song will continue for all the nine days preceding Pongala. The event of the Goddess annihilating the Pandyan King is accompanied by much sound and fury of the temple drums and "Vaykurava" by devotees, immediately followed by the lighting of the hearths for the preparation of the offering for the Goddess. This festival commemorates the victory of Good over Evil, by the slaying of Pandyan King. Throughout the festival an atmosphere of celebration and festivity prevails and there are the solemn observances such as regular conduct of Bhajans, musical concerts, ballets depicting folk and temple arts etc. in the temple premises. This is symbolic of the philosophy that human and divine affairs are inter-woven so minutely in all its disquisitions. Processions of colourful floats of the deity from all around, carried with pomp and devotion by the devotees congregating in the temple premises provides a pleasing experience.
A Rare Charm of the Festival
On the 9th day of the festival, it would appear as though all roads in and around Thiruvananthapuram city lead to the Attukal Temple. The entire area of about 7 Kilometres radius around the temple, with houses of people of all caste, creed and religion open fields, roads and commercial institutions emerge as a consecrated ground for observing Pongala ritual for the lakhs women devotees assembling from different parts of Kerala and outside. This ceremony is exclusively confined to women folk. It is a delightful sight to see waves after waves of women of all age groups without caste, colour and creed surging into this area well in advance mostly carrying on their head materials such as firewood, earthern pots rice, jaggery, coconut etc. to mark out specific spots for the preparation of their offerings to the Goddess. The important ritual in the 'Pongala' is the preparation of rice or varieties of sweet rice using hearths and the earthern pots in the open. The signal for lighting -the hearth is given by the chief priest of the temple at a prefixed auspicious time followed by the humming of the temple at Thidappally . Lightining of hearth at Thidappally is done by Melsanthi and at Panadara aduppu and Saha melsanthi.
The ceremony concludes with the sprinkling of holy water by temple priests at the appointed time in the evening accompanied by an aerial showering of flowers to the honour and glory of the Goddess Almighty. The temple authorities make all necessary arrangements for the welfare of this huge congregation with the active participation of the voluntary agencies, local people, members of the festival committee and the various government departments. They ensure law and order in the area with the support of the police and the volunteers specially detailed for the purpose. The enormous crowd which gathers here is reminiscent of the huge gatherings of the Kumbha Mela festival of North India.
Kuthiyottam performed by boys with the hope that the Goddess almighty would be pleased to bestow on them beauty inward and outward, health, wealth and happiness. Boys below the age of 12years make the offering of Kuthiyottam. These young boys represent the wounded soldiers of the Goddess Mahishasura Marddini. On the third day of the festival these young boys receive the prasadam (offering) from the temple priest and start a seven day penance to purify their body and mind. For the purpose they have to pass through rigorous physical and mental discipline such as sleeping in mat, observing strict diet restrictions, staying in the temple etc. Besides these, the boys have to undergo such disciplines like prostrating 1008 times before the deity after their morning and evening oblations.
Thalappoli by girls are popular rituals made on the pongala day. A stream of young girls below 12 years. dressed in traditional attire holding Thalappoli starts very early in the morning with the hope that the Goddess almighty would be pleased to bestow on them beauty inward and outward, health, wealth and happiness
Vilakkukettu as nercha reaches in Temple during night from 1st to 9th day of Pongala festival. One of the most spectacular sight of the festival is the vilakkukettu, in which beautifully decorated structures bearing idols and pictures of the Goddess are carried in the heads of the devotees, as they way to the temple from different parts of the city every night of festival accompanied by chendamelam music etc.
The Divine Procession
No sooner are the boys adorned for accompanying the Deity than the grand procession begins. The procession with illumination, floats and colourful festoons on either side of the road generate a gala atmosphere. This is made more attractive with various art forms like peacock dance, poykuthira dance, kolkali, theyyam, kumbhadance, display of other art forms which are followed by kuthiyottam, panchavadyam. Lastly a sight to behold is, the magnificent procession of Attukal Bhagavathy on the caparisoned elephant displaying with Alavattom and Venchamaram under the resounding echo of occasional gun shots. Enroute it is a splendid sight to see the devotees who assemble on either side of the road welcoming the goddess in reverence with different kinds of offerings in salvers and "vaykurava". The procession starting from Attukal temple reaches the Sastha Temple at Manacaud in the small hours of the morning and after the necessary pooja ceremonies performed there, the entourage returns to Attukal. Thereafter, the deity is received back in the sanctum with Deeparadhana. Soon after the Deeparadhana, the 'boys are delivered of the penance in an orderly manner. At night, rendering of devotional songs takes place which is followed by the ceremonial removal of the "Kappu". The ten day festival Culminates with the sacrificial offering known as 'Kuruthi Tharpanam' at night.
An atmosphere of festivity prevails everyday a the Attukal Bhagavathy Temple. Poojas arranged by devotees as also Bhajan, Kodi Archana, Leksharchana, Akhandanamajapam (continuous chanting of the names of Goddess) are conducted almost everyday. All important days of religious observances are celebrated here. Very important among them are:
Other Festivals
1. Mandala Vratham - Festival in connection with the annual Utsavam of Sabarimala

2. Vinayaka Chathurthi - Pooja to the Lord Ganapathy

3. Pooja Vaypu

Identical to Dussera festival (Saraswathy Pooja and Vidyarambham). On Vijayadashami day Melshanthi , Sahamelshanthi and eminent persons in the education field initiates vidya to children.
4. Sivarathri - Siva Pooja- Special poojas are arranged in Siva Temple.

5. Karthika - (Devi's star) in November - December - Karthika Deepam

6. Ayilya Pooja - Milk, flowers etc. offered to serpent God and special rites.

7. Aiswarya Pooia - On all fullmoon (Pournarni) days 8. Nirayum Puthariyum (Ramayana Parayanam)
On all fullmoon (Pournarni) days
During the month of karkidaka
9. Akhandanama Japam - 4th Sunday of every month

10. Ramayana Parayanam- During Karkadakam.

11. VISHU: This is on Malayalam month medam 1st , Vishukanni is arranged in the Temple.
12. Sahasrakalasham
This pooja is done during March/April. Devotees can book for different types of kalasham as vazhipaud during this pooja.
13. Narayaneeyam

14. Geetha Class and Geetha teaching class
"Attukal Pongala" entered into the Guiness Book of World Records for the largest women gathering festival in the world
Click here to view the Guiness Record Certificate
Attukal Bhagavathy Temple Trust
P.B.No. 5805. Manacaud P.O., Thiruvananthapuram - 695 009, Kerala, South India.
Phone: +91-471- 2463130 (Off) 2456456 (Temple) Email :
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