Saturday, March 24, 2007

'sabarimala of women'



women denied permission to sabarimala need not lose heart.the 'pongala' festival held annually at the "attukal bhagavathy" temple at thiruvananthapuram draws record crowds of women.this year it was held between feb 23 and march 4.on the ninth day of the festival about 2.5 million women participated in the festival, thus beating the earlier guiness record of 1.5 million women in 1977.

'pongala' in kerala is 'chakkarapongal' of tamil nadu.sweet rice prepared in earthen pots with jaggery and coconut is offered to the goddess.on the ninth day.irrespective of caste,colour or creed they all attend and gather with their cooking pots to perform the ritual for the health and happiness of their family members.

for a radius of about 10km from the temple,makeshift hearths are placed for devotees to cook the 'pongala'.the chief priest of the temple gives the green signal to light the hearth and this is followed by frentic beating of temple drums.the finale is the sprinkling of holy water by the temple priests.simultaneously,an aerial shower of flowers take place transforming the place into a veritable heaven with devotees becoming almost hysteric.it is an unique facility offered to devotees once a year only,though the priests prepare and offer 'pongala' every day to the goddess.

the authorities are environment-conscious. they auction away the burnt bricks left behind so that it does not cause any pollution.

yet another hindu festival where women of different religions and income-groups participate with enthusiasm and joy de vivre.