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Stage set for all-women's religious fest

Stage set for all-women's religious fest

Author: PTI
Publication: The Hindu
Date: February 21, 2008
URL: http://www.hinduonnet.com/thehindu/holnus/002200802211269.htm

Women in thousands have started pouring in to participate in Friday's 'Pongala' festival at Attukal temple, famed as 'Women's Sabarimala' for attracting one of the world's biggest female congregations.

The Attukal Bhagavati temple here had entered the Guinness Book two years back as a unique religious event that draws over a million women on a single day.

The whole city would turn into a sea of women as sun rises on Friday with the road, pavements and by-lanes about an area of six km around being occupied by devotees with the earthen pots placed on brick hearths in front of them to prepare the 'prasadam' (sweetened pudding).

The ritual consists of preparation of the prasadam of rice, jaggery, coconut and spices, to be offered to the Goddess to invoke her blessings for peace and prosperity.

According to a legend, 'pongala' is closely linked with Tamil epic Silappadikaram. It commemorates the hospitality accorded to Kannagi by women in Attukal while she was on way to Kodungallur near Thrissur after destroying the city of Madurai to avenge the injustice done to her husband Kovilan.

The Temple Trust authorities said 2.5 million devotees are expected this year and elaborate crowd-management and security arrangements had been made with the help of government agencies and voluntary outfits.

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