Sunday, January 30, 2011

Preparations for Attukal Pongala 2011:
Scenes from the temple

Rebuilding the main way to the temple

Illumination work on the temple shrine

Fixing the lights

Nadapanthal work in progress

Saturday, January 29, 2011

Nadapandal to offer trouble free darshan

The Nadapandal under construction

The nadapandal which is being constructed in front of the Attukal temple will give a trouble free darshan for all devotees visiting the temple, especially during the Pongala festival and on special occassions. The nadapandal will be equipped with iron barricades to facilitate queue for darshan. Major temples like Guruvayoor has nadapandal to regulate the entry of devotees to the temple, it can also assure security check on suspicious persons. Attukal Pongala is one of the biggest festival on earth, where more than 30 lakh women participate, it is also called women's Sabarimala considering the number of pilgrims visiting the temple. Thus the festival gives a great security concern, for the public, law enforcers and the administration alike; the construction of nadapandal by the temple authorities is a welcome move.

Link road construction in progress

The link road, a view from the parking area in front of the temple

The link road connecting Killipalam to Attukal temple in progress. A bridge was built over the Killi river to make the road 

City police chalks out security plan for Pongala

The city police has chalked out elaborate security arrangements to meet any situation in connection with Attukal Pongala festival, that begins on Feb 11. The temple trust is expecting around 30 lakh devotees this year. To facililitate coordination and assistance for this massive pilgrimage , two special police control rooms will be set up in and around the temple premises. Devotees will be allowed to enter the temple only through the newly built Nadapanthal. Barricades will be constructed right from main road that leads to the temple to facilitate a smooth entry through queue for the devotees. As a step to reduce the traffic congestion in the roads that lead to the temple, the Road Transport Corporation has decided to ply buses to Attukal only through Attakulangara bypass and upto Killipalam bund road. This time the city police has decided not to give permission to construct arches across roads in the city.

Friday, January 28, 2011

Elaborate arrangements for Attukal Pongala

Elaborate arrangements has been made by the district administration and the temple trust for Attukal Pongala 2011. The PWD has already finished the repairs and tarring of the main road and bye-roads in the Attakulangara - Manacuad-Attukal stretch. The KSRTC has a constructive plan to ply buses during the Pongala season. The government is also speeding up the work of the new bridge across the Killiyar to lessen the traffic during the Pongala; the new bridge can be used as one way. The review meeting held at the Attukal Temple Trust Office decided to build iron barricades in the temple premises to reduce the heavy rush during Pongala. The City Police Commissioner Mr.M.R.Ajithkumar said that 3,800 police men will be deployed during the Pongala festival and 12 surveillance cameras will be in operation. The coordination of Attukal Pongala festival is entrusted to Additional District Magistrate V. Jayaprakash. The district health authorities will open five temporary dispensaries.

Pongala and womanhood

Pongala is a celebration of womanhood. It reiterates and empowers women of the supreme power of creation. Every woman on earth inherits that mystic powers of Devi, the Adiparasakti, which is sleeping inside her. The womb is nothing but the divine symbol of devichaitanya. Pongala is a sublime occassion to wake up the devichaitanya, submitting oneself to Her, and solemnly assert that you are Her part.

Thursday, January 27, 2011

Pongala, a divine submission

Pongala symbolises the craving for a divine unity inherent in human mind . Like the beautifully arranged petals of a flower or a like bunch of flowers in a people gather with love, compassion and above all unity in mind to offer pongala. Pongala is not simply cooking the rice, but a submission of oneself to the divine whole, the act of boiling rice with jaggery is only a symbolic act. The real offering is nothing but the submission of the mind to Bhagavathy.

Pongala, the energizing ritual

The gopuram at Attukal

Pongala is like the morning shine. Every Pongala fills the mind of the devotee with new rays of hope. It instills fresh thoughts, positive attitute and charge the bhakta will a fresh spell of energy. You can call it an energizing ritual with fire, water and earth.

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

At work

Men doing the electrification work for the Attukal Pongala festival 2011

Preparations in full swing

Offering prayers lighting the narangavilakku

Preparations are going on in a full swing at the Attukal Temple for the Attukal Pongala 2011. Electrification work has been started and every where you can see people engaged in work.
The temple also witnessed a large crowd today.

City snaps

Padma Theertham; Sree Padmanabha Swamy temple seen in the background

Street in front of Sree Padmanabha Swamy temple at Thiruvananthapuram showing a deserted look after the Makaravilakku season at Sabarimala. Pilgrims from the neighbouring states of Andhra Pradesh and Tamil Nadu used to visit the centuries old Vishnu temple after visiting Sabarimala.

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

City welcomes Attukal Pongala 2011

Hoardings from business houses and corporates welcoming Attukal Pongala 2011

Many business houses and corporates have come up with their hoardings to welcome Attukal Pongala 2011. Gigantic hoardings have appeared on the main roads that lead to Attukal temple. Attakulangara, one of the main junctions hosts the largest number of hoardins. Meanwhile the voluntary organisations and youth clubs around the Attukal temple have sprung to activity for welcoming and celebrating Attukal Pongala 2011. The Trivandrum city corporation is also making a great effort in assuring the sanitation in the city particularly around the temple by cleaning the drainage system and removing the blocks. The PWD has also joined hands in tarring the roads and filling the gutters. Meanwhile the government has declared local holiday for government institutions, schools and colleges on February 19, in connection with the Attukal Pongala 2011.

Monday, January 24, 2011

The pongala wave

Come to Trivandrum city and you will find a number of hoardings announcing pongala in connection with festivals of various Devi temples in the city. Attukal temple is surrounded by Devi temples at Konchiravila, Pazhanchira, Kuriathi (Mutharamman Kovil). The Mukkolakkal Devi temple is also another attraction but is quite away from Attukal. Pongala is one of the main offerings to goddess Bhadrakali and it is one main attractions of the festivals in Devi temples.

Saturday, January 22, 2011

The fruit of bhakti

Most of us believe that bhakti is not complete without rituals. We commit ourselves to perform various rituals and seek the blessings of god. Rituals thus serve as a catalyst or a path to evoke bhakti. But the question whether a true bhakta needs rituals is out of place. Puranas have thousands of stories where even gods are asked to perform certain rituals to invoke bhakti. Pongala is a ritual which helps the bhakta to discover the depth of his own bhakti, the pongala prasada is nothing but the residue of bhakti, moksha or the fruit of bhakti.

Thursday, January 20, 2011

For blessings of Lord Muruuga

Scenes from kavadi procession

Attukal pongala and Thaipooya kavadi

The kavadi procession

Vel kavadi

Pongala in fact marks the culmination of the temple festival season in the erstwhile Travancore region. But at the same time Kavadi festival that falls on the month of Makaram marks the beginning of the temple festival season. Most of the temple festivals in the Travancore region begins after the Kavadi festival, which is celebrated for getting the blessings of Lord Muruga.
Thaipooya Kavadi festival was clebrated in Muruga temples around Attukal, mainly with the Kavadi procession.

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Pongala preparations in full swing

A shed being constructed in the western side of the temple
Come to Attukal temple and you will just feel the gaeity of the festival. Everywhere you see cheers and smiles; and hectic activity is going on around.

A facelift for Attukal temple

Attukal Devi temple; part of the new mandapam is also seen

The new mandapam which is under construction in front of the temple as part of the temple development initiative, will give a facelift for the temple. The massive structure under construction will serve as a rest place for hundreds of devotees especially during Attukal Pongala. The work is progressing fast so as to complete the pongala festival.

Work in progress

Work of the mandapam in progress in front of the Attukal temple

Monday, January 3, 2011

New year and Attukal Pongala

Devotees lighting the Naranga Vilakku
Pongala is a new beginning, just like the dawn of the new year. Pongala too comes with resolutions like the new year resolutions we take. But unlike the new year resolutions for which we have to strive for, Pongala resolutions strive for us, gives strength for our spirit and body. Those resolutions are taken care of by Attukal Amma. We just have to keep our faith in her; her blessings would make us bold and strong to face all the challenges till we renew our pledges during the next Pongala. That's why every year lakhs of women join this spiritual rite. Pongala is nothing but submission of oneself before Attukal Amma,; or discovering the true self.