This year Attukal Pongala festival will be celebrated from 9 March 2020 to 19 March 2020. On the ninth day of the festival’s celebration, lakhs of women gather together to worship Attukal Devi and prepare food to offer the Goddess for prosperity.
The origin of the age-old observance has various myths and stories attached to it. The temple is also known popularly as Sabarimala of women.
Women also prepare a divine offering (naivedya) of rice made in earthen pots called Pongal. It is a combination of many simple ingredients like rice, jaggery, and coconut.
Women are known to worship goddess Bhadrakali, the fierce incarnation of Devi also known as Attuakal Amma on this day. In SriLanka, she is also worshipped by Sinhalese Buddhists as Goddess Pathini.
Significance of Attukal Pongala 2020:
- Attukala Pongala festival also has a mythological story in relation to it.
- Kannagi, a Tamil character is its central figure. According to the story, Kannagi avenged the mistaken death penalty awarded to her husband by cursing Madhurai and setting it on fire.
- According to mythology, a wealthy merchant from Kaveripattinam named Kovalan married a beautiful woman Kannagi. Their happily married life did not last long as Kovalan fell in love with a dancer called Madhavi.
- Kovalan moved in with Madhavi and spent all his wealth on her. Kovalan returned to his wife after releasing his mistake. Kannagi forgave him but they did not have money to survive.
- The only possession with Kannagi was a pair of precious anklets that she gave her husband and told him to sell it. Kovalan then went to Madurai which was then ruled by Pandya King Nedunj Cheliyan to sell the anklets.
- At the same time he set out to sell his wife’s anklets, Madurai’s Queen had lost her anklets and to his misfortune, both the anklets looked similar. When Kovalan tried to sell them, he was accused of stealing the Queen’s prized possession. He was soon presented before the King who beheaded him.
- When Kannagi was informed about her husband’s death, she became furious and marched to the King’s court. She presented the anklet seized from Kovalan and broke it open. Kannagi’s anklet was filled with rubies as opposed to queen’s anklets which had pearls.
- The King and Queen realised their mistake but the damage was irreversible. It is said that she tore out a breast and threw it on the city cursing it. Soon, the curse became a reality and the entire city was set ablaze.
- After setting the city on fire, she went to Kodungalloor in Kerala and later natives of Attukal built a temple in her name. It is believed that she settled at Kodungalloor Devi Temple, situated south of Guruvayoor.
- Kannagi is considered a brave woman in traditional and cultural references in both Tamil Nadu and Kerala. She is considered as the epitome of chastity and is worshipped for devotion towards her husband despite him abandoning her.
- Pongala is offered to celebrate the victory of Kannagi over the King. Women pray to the Goddess for prosperity, time and salvation.
Safety measures taken by Police in Attukal Pongal 2020:
- This year around 300 Railway Police Force (RPF) personnel including 100 female police officers have been deployed across the city.
- The ritual will begin at 10.15 am after the chief priest signalling the start of the ritual, lighted the main hearth near the shrine.
- A sanctification ceremony will be held at 2.20 pm.