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Attukal Temple

Attukal Temple
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


An atmosphere of festivity prevails everyday a the Attukal Bhagavathy Temple. Poojas arranged by

devotees as also Bhajan, Kodi Archana, Leksharchana, Akhandanamajapam (continuous chanting of

the names of Goddess) are conducted almost everyday. All important days of religious observances

are celebrated here. Very important among them are:

1. Mandala Vratham - Festival in connection with the annual Utsavam of Sabarimala

2. Vinayaka Chathurthi - Pooja to the Lord Ganapathy

3. Pooja Vaypu - Identical to Dussera festival (Saraswathy Pooja and Vidyarambham)

4. Sivarathri - Siva Pooja

5. Karthika - (Devi's star) in November - December - Karthika Deepam

6. Ayilya Pooja - Milk, flowers etc. offered to serpent God and special rites.

7. Aiswarya Pooia - On all fullmoon (Pournarni) days

8. Nirayum Puthariyum (Ramayana Parayanam) - During the month of Karkidaka

9. Akhandanama Japam - 4th Sunday of every month

'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.

On the 9' day of the festival, it would appear as though all roads in and around Thiruvananthapuram

city lead to the Attukal Temple. The entire area of about 5 Kilometres radius around the temple,

with houses of people of all caste, creed and religion open fields, roads and commercial institutions

emerge as a consecrated ground for observing Ponkala ritual for the lakhs women devotees

assembling from different parts of Kerala and outside. This ceremony is exclusively confined to

women folk. It is a delightful sight to see waves after waves of women of all age groups without caste,

colour and creed surging into this area well in advance mostly carrying on their head materials such

as firewood, earthern pots rice, jaggery, coconut etc. to mark out specific spots for the preparation of

their offerings to the Goddess. The important ritual in the 'Ponkala' is the preparation of rice or

varieties of sweet rice using hearths and the earthern pots in the open. The signal for lighting -the

hearth is given by the chief priest of the temple at a prefixed auspicious time followed by the

humming of the temple drums.

The ceremony concludes with the sprinkling of holy water by temple priests at the appointed time in

the evening accompanied by an aerial showering of flowers to the honour and glory of the Goddess

Almighty. The temple authorities make all necessary arrangements for the welfare of this huge

congregation with the active participation of the voluntary agencies, local people, members of the

festival committee and the various government departments. They ensure law and order in the area

with the support of the police and the volunteers specially detailed for the purpose. The enormous

crowd which gathers here is reminiscent of the huge gatherings of the Kumbha Mela festival of

North India.

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