Monday, December 28, 2009

Attukal Pongala again in Guinness Book

The conglomeration of 25 lakh women devotees for the Attukal Pongala in 2009 has figured in the Guinness Book of World Records. A temple communication said that the Guinness authorities had issued a certificate to this regard recently. The authorities have revised the existing record in the name of the temple for 15 lakh women devotees attending the pongala held in 1997.

Thursday, March 19, 2009

The Procession

Attukal Devi arrives at the Sastha Temple Manacaud, in procession

Back home

Women returning home after Pongala

After Pongala

Women wait for the scared springling after Pongala

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Lighting the fire

Lighting the fire

Pongala pots ready!

Waiting for the auspicious moment

Monday, March 9, 2009

Pongala photos

Scenes from Attukal temple premise
Women have started flowing to the Attukal Temple premises from the dawn today. Every nook and corner around the temple are filled with women who have come from distant places to offer pongala to Attukal Devi. The celebration has begun

Tuesday, March 3, 2009

Theruvilakku procession

Theruvilakku is an offering given to Attukal Devi. Theruvilakku looks like a decorated temple like structure. They are taken on the head by men and dance according to the percussion (usually meyyandimelam) that accompany. Theruvilakku processions that start usually at night end at the Attukal temple.

Kudiyiruthu ceremony video

Attukal Pongala Festival begins

Thousands of devotees thronged the Attukal Devi Temple to witness the Kudiyiruthu ceremony, which marks the beginning of the Attukal Pongala festival; the ceremony was held at 9.30 PM. As men began singing the Thottampattu, at the panthal made in front of the temple, women hailed the divinity with kurava in the traditional way. The festival will end with the famous Attukal Pongala on March 10.

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

City grooming up for Attukal Pongala

Trivandrum city is grooming up for the Attukal Pongala. Huge arches were being erected across the main roads welcoming the devotees and also annoucing the Pongala. Many of them were erected either by the business houses or by voluntary organisations. Huge hoardings welcoming the devotees can be seen in most of the junctions in the vicinity of Attukal Devi temple. Today the first batch of potters arrived in the city from Tamil Nadu, with their hand made earthern pots. Pongala is traditionally made in earthern pots, which also register a good business during Pongala season.

Monday, February 23, 2009

Trivandrum city celebrating Shivratri

Attukal Amma
Trivandrum city is reverberating with chants and matras of Lord Shiva; and people are gathering in every temple premise to celebrate the Shivratri with whole hearted devotion. The main temples of Lord Shiva like the Sreekanteswaram temple, Kazhakkoottam Mahadevar temple, Kanthalloor Shiva temple etc. were crowded right from yesterday. In fact the arrival of Shivratri amidst the longing of Pongala has created a divine atmosphere in the city.

Sunday, February 22, 2009

Shivratri at Sri Padmanabhaswamy Temple

Sri Padmanabha Swami Temple on the eve of Shivratri

Shivratri worship at Attukal

Attukal Temple on the eve of Shivratri
The temples in the Trivandrum city witnessed a heavy rush on the eve of Shivrathri. Heavy turn out of devotees were seen in Shiva Temples, particularly Sreekandeswaram Mahadeva Temple. The Sree Padmanabhaswamy Temple in Trivandrum also recorded a heavy rush.

Saturday, February 21, 2009

Temple in the morning shine

Attukal temple

Preparations for pongala in full swing

The morning was misty and the air was still cold, I witnessed a great rush to make offerings to Attukal Amma. The festival orginisers are busy with decorating the temple. Now the temple adorns a new look with the specially made electric illuminations. The various government wings have also started their work like cleaning the drainages, repairing the pipes, re-tarring the roads, around three square kilometres around the temple. These measures are necessary to ensure better health and sanitary conditions so as to accomodate lakhs of women who arrive to give pongala offerings. The Trivandrum City Corporation and the Health departments are also very much cautious of the situation, particularly in the wake of the recent dengue fever outbreak. Along with these the local people are also giving their whole-hearted support for making Attukal pongala 2009, a great event.

Scenes from the temple ground

Scenes from the temple - preparing electric illuminations

Temple grooming up

The Attukal temple is grooming up for the festival.
Every where you can see the sparkle of the festival and smiles of joy. Electric illumination, painting etc. are going on, and more than that one could feel the longing for the pongala festival in every eyes you see around. The inner feeling is so great that it vanishes the electric illuminations around as if the sun among the stars. The narrow road from the Manacaud junction to the Attukal temple has already become congested due to the heavy flow of the devotees. The sports and arts clubs and business establishments in the vicinity has started erecting banners announcing the arrival of pongala and welcoming the devotees.
Need to say more, the festival is near.

Sunday, February 1, 2009


Velkavadi offered as part of the temple festival of
Panathur Subramanian Temple, Trivandrum

Kavadi is the main offering given to Lord Subramania. there are different types of kavadi. Vel kavadi, Parava kavadi, Agni kavadi, Poo kavadi etc. depending upon how the kavadi is performed. In Vel kavadi small vels (tiny pointed spears) were pierced into the flesh of the person who is performing the kavadi.


Scenes from Paravakavadi offered as part of the temple festival of
Panathur Subramanian Temple, Trivandrum
Paravakavadi is an offering made to Lord Subramania, the younger son of Lord Siva and Goddess Parvati. Kavadi is the main offering given to Lord Subramania. In Paravakavadi, the devotee hangs from wodden pole or a bamboo with iron hooks pierced into the flesh on his back, so that he looks like a bird.

Saturday, January 31, 2009

Temple festivals begin

Attukal Amma

Come February, and its festival season.
Festivals have started in some of the temples around Attukal Devi Temple. The months of Makaram and Kumbham (February-March) is well known for temple festivals, particularly in the Devi temples in erstwhile Travancore region. Now people will start flowing to temples to have darshan of their beloved dieties. It is believed that the dieties would be in a cheeerful mood during festivals and bless the devotees wholeheartedly so that whatever they ask would be given. All these festivals will culminate with the festivals of some of the major temples in the Travancore region; Attukal Devi temple is one among them. This time the Attukal Pongala festival has come at the end of the Malayalam month Kumbham, as the star Pooram falls on March 10. Attukal Pongala is celebrated every year during the Pooram star of the month Kumbham.

Saturday, January 24, 2009

Relevance of Pongala

Attukal temple

Pongala as social gathering has more relevance in the new age. It is a get together of people who have devotion to the almighty and therefore cherish untainted values of humanism and brotherhood. Pongala rediscovers the niceties of folk ways in the urban melieu. It teaches the highly sophisticated urbanhood the need for love, mutual respect and understanding. It is no mere social gathering, but a divine satsang that teaches love, friendship and togetherness.

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Pongala is near

Attukal Temple
Pongala is near, and there is a lot of hectic activity near and far. People are flowing in and it will increase day by day, like a flowing river merging with the ocean, the more it goes near the ocean, the flow will increase. You will smell the festive mood as you approach the temple through the winding road. Even in the sprouting grass and the morning light you can see the smile...pongala is near.

Monday, January 19, 2009

Seas of God

Sunset view at Palmleaves Beach Resort, Trivandrum, Kerala

"Sail forth - steer for the deep waters only...
For we are bound where mariner has not yet dared to go,
And we will risk the ship, ourselves and all...
O daring joy, but safe! are they not all the seas of God?"

Sunday, January 18, 2009

Pongala and Shakespeare

"Pluck from the memory a rooted sorrow
Raze out the written troubles of the brain
And with some sweet oblivious antidote
Cleanse the stuff'd bosom of that perilious stuff
Which weighs upon the heart"
Macbeth, William Shakespeare

Friday, January 16, 2009

Traveling pilgrims

Traveling temples

The pooja

God exists in the mind

Its pooja time

The traveling temple

Where does God exist?
The most common answer is that God exists in the mind.
If God exists in mind, where do temple exists?
Logically it should also be in the mind.
This is not algebra or mathematics, but the common belief of the common man.
The devotees who come for Sabarimala pilgrimage particularly from Andhra Pradesh, Karnataka and Tamil Nadu, carry a travelling temple with them, throughout their pilgrimage.
Don't get excited, these temples are not big structures as you imagine.
Small photos of their beloved dieties fitted to the bonnet of their vehicles, form their temples. Every morning and evening during the travel they perform pooja in from of them, just like in temples. The physical construct of the temple has already transformed to a mental construct, the mind has become the focal point, and nothing else exists. This explains the real meaning of devotion or bhakti and more who a real bhakta is.

Thursday, January 15, 2009

Sreebhoothabali procession


Children holding the fire lamps to accompany the
Sreebhoothabali procession at Manacaud Sastha temple

Ready for the Sreebhoothabali procession

The Sastha diety at Manacaud is regarded as the younger brother of Attukal Amma by the local people. The Ezhunnallipu or procession that takes place after the pongala offering also culminates at this very ancient temple. The kuthiyottams gather around the temple premises of Manacaud Sasthavu and then return to Attukal temple accompanying Attukal Amma. Sreebhoothabali is one of the main offerings given to Sastha diety during the auspicious Makaravilakku celebrations.

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Rising upto the heaven : Attukal Temple front view

"Flowers laugh before thee on their beds
And fragrance in thy footing treads;
Thou dost preserve the stars from wrong;
And the most ancient heavens, through Thee, are fresh and strong"
William Wordsworth

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

It's Festival Season

Sree Padmanabha Swami Temple
Sree Padmanabha Swami Temple and Attukal Devi Temple
at Trivandrum are attractions for the tourists who come to
Trivandrum for pilgrimage

Fancy trees on display before the Padmanabha
Swami Temple, Trivandrum

In Kerala, particularly in erstwhile Travancore province, temple festivals are conducted during the months from February to April. During this period, most of the temples particularly temples of Mother Goddess Bhadrakali will have their annual festivals. The Mandala Pooja and Makara Vilakku festivals in Sabarimala serve as prologues to the great celebrations that extend for three months that follow. Attukal Pongala that comes as part of the annual festival of Attukal Temple, comes in the month of Kumbham according to the Malayalam Calender.

Monday, January 12, 2009

Path to knowledge and moksha

Divine smile: Coconut trees in front of the
Attukal Temple against the morning sun

Pongala is here again.
Time to submit onesself at the feet of Attukal Amma,
and pray for forgiveness for the wrong deeds of the past.
Time to rethink about oneself.
Time to cleanse the body, and the soul.
Time to identify the human being in you
Pongala is all in a nut shell, what life means
It encompasses a philosophy that is unique and at
the same time a ritual to be performed, thus an easy way
to climb the steps of knowledge and moksha

Sunday, January 11, 2009

Attukal Pongala on March 10

Attukal Temple in the mornning gleam

Huge banner in front of the temple announcing Pongala

Its January. We hear the temple bells of Attukal Pongala, pleasing to the ears and pacifying the minds. Its Sunday today, and people come to the temple not only to have the darshan but also to hear about Pongala. One year has gone, with the pace of a week, we all meet again, with vivid memories and even names not forgotten.
Pongala comes again on 10 March 2009, proclaiming that we all are one, before Attukal Amma.