Saturday, February 27, 2010

Women in thousands converge for \'pongala\' ritual

T�PURAM: Women in thousands have begun to pour in to the city as the stage is set for today\'s \'pongala\' festival of the famed Atttukal Bhavathi temple here, which has found its way into the Guinness Book of Records as world?s largest religious gathering of women on a single day.

A religious event that attracts women cutting across caste, class and even religious barriers, the pongla is a ritual of women boiling sweetened rice in fresh earthen pots on make-shift brick hearths at open space as their offering to the Goddess, seeking her blessings for all round prosperity.

Once a small village ceremony performed by handful of women on the banks of the Killiyar river to celebrate a local legend, over the last few decades the pongala has become a huge festival like the Sabarimala pilgrimage.

If Sabarimala pilgrimage is primarily for men, pongala is performed by women alone, though there is no gender discrimination for worshipping at the temple, situated on the southern periphery of the Kerala capital.

\'Last year the turn out was slightly over 2.5 million. This time it could exceed 3 million. Every year it has been going up,\' temple secretary K P Ramachandran Nair told PTI.

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