As part of 10-day Attukal Pongala temple festival, women come from across the state to prepare Pongala, made of rice, jaggery, coconut and ghee, and offer it to the temple goddess.

Hearths pots Pongala Thousands of women join annual Attukal Pongala fest in Tpuram
news Attukal Pongala Wednesday, February 20, 2019 - 17:58

It was that time of the year in Kerala’s Thiruvananthapuram when the Statue road near the Kerala Secretariat was a hive of activities. On Wednesday, hundreds of women were crouched on the pavements on the Statue road; not for protests, but to celebrate the annual Attukal Pongala festival, one of the largest religious gatherings of women.

Droves of women from across the state lined the main roads and pavements, armed with makeshift hearths, bricks, mud pots and ladles. The Attukal Pongala is a 10-day festival celebrated at the Attukal temple in Thiruvananthapuram. On the ninth day, women gather to prepare Pongala, a dish made of rice, jaggery, coconut and ghee, in earthen pots and offer it to the goddess of the temple - Attukal Bhagavathy.

Although the festival began on Wednesday, preparations kicked off the previous day, like every year - women devotees start arriving to claim their spots on the roadsides, loudspeakers are set-up to play music and other entertainment programmes.


An official from the Attukal temple told TNM that almost 40 lakh women devotees are expected to participate in the festival today. However, TNM could not get a confirmation about the exact number.

Despite the scorching heat in Thiruvananthapuram, the women who gathered for the festival continued preparing various dishes with a smile. “Attukal Pongala is a festival which we look forward to. We have been attending the festival for the last several years. So, we can easily ignore this heat,” says 49-year-old Vasantha, as she blows the fire under the hearth.

Women also use the makeshift, open-air kitchen to prepare other dishes, in addition to Pongala. Ullasini from Palakkad churned out one dish after the other. “Manda Puttu is made with rice, coconut, jaggery and cardamom powder and rolled into small balls. Then there is Therali Appam, a dish steamed in vayana leaves (bay leaves). Payasam made of jaggery is yet another common dish,” said the 52-year-old.

As part of the festival arrangements, the city police also put in place strict traffic regulations in the city since Tuesday evening and is expected to continue till 8 pm on Wednesday. The Kerala State Road Transport Corporation (KSRTC) has also been conducting special bus services from all major areas in the city for the convenience of the devotees.