The annual Attukal Pongala festival in Kerala began with the lighting of Pandara Aduppu -the main hearth along with the lighting of thousands of brick hearths. The gathering of women devotees holds significance in times when the State is battling against COVID-19.
- This festival is held annually in Attukal Bhagavathy Temple in Thiruvananthapuram.
- Attukal Pongala is described as the biggest congregation of women.
- It is also known as the Women’s Sabarimala.
- The festival is observed for a period of 10 days.
- On the day of Pongala, thousands of women converge in the city and prepare sweetened rice called ‘Pongala’ on fresh earthen pots and offer to the Goddess, while seeking divine blessings.
- As per the local tradition, The divine form of Kannagi, the female protagonist of the Tamil classic 'Silappadikaram', is the presiding deity of the shrine.
- According to temple legends, this festival commemorates the event of hospitality shown by women in the Attkual village to Kannagi.
- Kannagi was on her way to Kodungallur in central Kerala after burning the ancient city of Madurai to avenge the injustice done to Kovalan.
- Silappadikaram along with Manimekhalai , the two Sangam texts are accorded the status of Tamil Epics.
- Silappadikaram was written by Ilango Adigal in the second century A.D. while Manimekalai was written by Sithalai Sathanar during the 5th century.
- They narrate the story in a continuous form of a family in which the male protagonist is Kovalan (the rich merchant prince of Puhar), and the female protagonist is Kannagi (Kovalan’s chaste wife).
- Other characters are Madhavi (the dancer) with whom Kovalan lived in wedlock and Manimekalai, the child born out of wedlock.
- Silappatikaram is a poetic rendition which has details of Tamil culture including religions practiced, town plans and city types, assimilation of different people, and art forms.
- It contains three chapters and 5270 lines of poetry in total.
- The epic revolves around its protagonist Kannagi, who having lost her husband to a miscarriage of justice at the court of the Pandyan Dynasty, wreaks her revenge on his kingdom.
Also read: Zero Waste City Thiruvananthapuram
Image Source: The Hindu