The Attukal Bhagavathy Temple, one of the ancient temples of South India, is popularly described as Sabarimala of the Women, as women form the major portion of devotees. The Goddess in the temple of Attukal is worshipped as the Supreme Mother, creator of all living beings and the mighty preserver as well as destroyer of them all. The pilgrims from all over the country, who visit Sree Padmanabha Swamy Temple and worship the Lord, do not consider their visits complete without the visit to the shrine of the supreme Mother Attukalamma. Vishnumaya took the incarnation of Bhagavathy to annihilate the evil and protect the good in the world in the present Era namely Kaliyuga.
According to mythology, Attukal Bhagavathy is supposed to be the divinised form of Kannaki, the famous heroine of Chilapathikaram, written by Elenkovadikal, the Tamil Poet. The story goes that after the destruction of ancient city of Madurai, Kannaki left the city and reached Kerala via Kanyakumari and on the way to Kodungalloor took a sojourn at Attukal. Kannaki is supposed to be the incarnation of Parvathy, the consort of Paramasiva. The all powerful and benign Attukal Bhagavathy reigns eternally supreme at Attukal and nurses devotees as a mother does her children. Thousands of devotees from far and near flock to the Temple to bend before the Goddess with awe and reverence to prostrate and redress their affliction and agony.
The Pongala Mahotsavam is the most important festival of Attukal Bhagavathy Temple. The offering of Pongala is a special temple practice prevalent in the southern part of Kerala and some parts of Tamilnadu. It is a ten-day programme commencing on the Karthika star of the Malayalam month of Makaram-Kumbham (February-March) and closing with the sacrificial offering known as Kuruthitharpanam at night. On the ninth day of the festival the world famous Attukal Pongala Mahotsavam takes place. The entire area of about 5 kilometre radius around temple with premises of houses of people of all caste, creed and religion, open fields, roads, commercial institutions, premises of Government offices etc. emerges as a consecrated ground for observing Pongala rituals for lakhs of women devotees assembling from different parts of Kerala and outside. The ceremony is exclusively confined to women folk and the enormous crowd, which gathers in Thiruvananthapuram on this auspicious day is reminiscent of the Kumbhamela Festival of North India.
‘Ponkala’ is the most important festival of Attukal Bhagavathy Temple. The offering of Ponkala is a very special temple practice in the southern part of Kerala. The ten-day- long celebration commences in the Malayalam month of Makaram-Kumbham (Feb – March)on the Karthika star. Ponkala ceremony is on the auspicious day of Pooram star which coincides with full moon. The festival commences with the musical rendering of the story of the Goddess (Kannaki Charitam) during the “Kappukettu ceremony”. The story invokes the presence of Kodungallur Bhagavathy and the slaying of the Pandyan King. The song will continue for all the nine days preceding Ponkala. The event of the Goddess annihilating the Pandyan King is accompanied by much sound and fury of the temple drums and “Vaykurava” by devotees, immediately followed by the lighting of the hearths for the preparation of the offering for the Goddess. This festival commemorates the victory of Good over Evil, by the slaying of Pandyan King. Throughout the festival an atmosphere of celebration and festivity prevails and there are the solemn observances such as regular conduct of Bhajans, musical concerts, ballets depicting folk and temple arts etc. in the temple premises. This is symbolic of the philosophy that human and divine affairs are inter-woven so minutely in all its disquisitions. Processions of colourful floats of the deity from all around, carried with pomp and devotion by the devotees congregating in the temple premises provides a pleasing experience.
Attukal Bhagavathy Temple Trust
P.B.No. 5805. Manacaud P.O.,
Thiruvananthapuram – 695 009, Kerala, South India.
Phone: +91-471- 2463130 (Off) 2456456 (Temple)
Fax : +91-471- 2456457
Email : firstname.lastname@example.org