Significance of the Festival
Goddess Attukalamma is believed to be incarnation of 'Kannaki',
the heroine of 'Silappathikaram' written by Tamil poet
Illango in 2nd century A.D. Attukal is the place where
Kannaki took rest on her northward journey from Madurai to
'Pongala' means to boil over. It refers to the customary
offering of things which please the deity. It consists of
porridge of rice, sweet brown molasses, coconut gratings,
nuts and raisins.
Celebrating Attukal Pongala
Festivities begin Thottampattu (a song about Bhagavathi).
These religious songs continue for nine days of the
festival. On the ninth and the main day of Attukal Pongala
thousands of women gather in the temple with materials for
cooking Ponkala or Pongala. The ritual of cooking starts
early in the morning and by noon, Pongala would be ready.
Then the Melsanthi (chief priest) arrives with Devi's sword
and bless the ladies by sprinkling holy water and showering
flowers. The 'blessed' Pongala is taken back to the house by
Later, the idol of Devi is carried to Manacaud Sastha Temple
in a colorful procession comprising of Thalapoli,
Kuthiyottom, Annam, Vahanam, caparisoned elephants etc.
Musical ensembles by famous artistes add to the festivities.
En route onlookers greet the procession with Nirapara (a
measure filled with paddy and decorated with flowers). The
procession reaches back, the next morning, marking the end
of the festival.