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ATTUKAL TEMPLE


The Attukal Bhagavathy Temple is a Hindu religious shrine at Attukalin Kerala, The temple is renowned for the annual Attukal Pongala festival, in which over a million women participate. A festival that has figured in the Guinness Book of World Records for being the single largest gathering of women for a religious activity, the Attukal Pongala continues to draw millions of women with each passing year. According to the Attukal Temple Trust, around 4.5 million devotees attended the Pongala in 2015.Attukal Temple is situated within 2 kilometres of the Sree Padmanabhaswamy Temple in Thiruvananthapuram. 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 Kannaki (Parvathi) is the main deity in this temple. The mythology behind the temple, relates to the story of Kannagi who was married to Kovalan, son of a wealthy merchant. After marriage, Kovalan met a dancer and spent all his riches on her forgetting his wife. But when he was penniless, he went back to Kannagi. The only precious thing left to be sold was Kannagi's pair of anklets. Kovalan went with it to the king of Madurai to sell it. But at that moment an anklet was stolen from the Queen which looked similar to Kannagi's. When Kovalan tried to sell it, he was mistaken for the thief and beheaded by the King's soldiers.


Kannagi got infuriated when she heard the news and rushed to the King with the second pair of anklet. She broke one of the anklets and it contained rubies while the Queen's contained pearls. She cursed the city of Madurai, and it is said that due to her chastity, the curse came true. Kannagi is said to have attained salvation after the Goddess of the city appeared before her.




It is said that on her way to Kodungalloor, Kannagi passed Attukal. She took the form of a little girl. An old man was sitting on the banks of a stream, when the girl went to him and asked him whether he could help her cross it. Surprised to find the young girl alone, he took her home. But she disappeared. She came back in his sleep and asked him to build a temple where he found 3 golden lines in his grove. He went ahead and did the same, and it is said that this is at the location of the present Attukal temple.

Attukal Pongala is the main festival of this temple. Attukal Pongala Mahotsavam is a 10 days festival which falls on February - March every year (Malayalam month of Makaram - Kumbham). The festival begins on the Karthika star with the traditional Kappukettu and Kudiyiruthu ceremony, the idol of Devi, is embellished with Kappu (Bangles). The 9th day of the festival is the major attraction, The Attukal Pongala day and the festival will conclude with the Kuruthitharpanam at 10th day night.
Millions of women gather every year in the month of Kumbham around this temple and prepare Pongala (rice cooked with jaggery, ghee, coconut as well as other ingredients) in the open in small pots to please the Goddess Kannaki. Pongala (literally means to boil over) is a ritualistic offering of a sweet dish, consisting of rice porridge, sweet brown molasses, coconut gratings, nuts and raisins. It is done as an offering to the presiding deity of the temple - the Goddess - popularly known as Attukal Amma. Only women are allowed to participate in the Pongala ritual.




Attukal temple is the abode of the goddess, who is the supreme preserver and destroyer. She cares her devotees like a mother does her children. For the devotees, Attukal Devi (Attukal Amma or Attukal Bhagavathy) is supreme power, capable of delivering all the wishes of her devotees. Several women devotees testify the supreme power of this shrine, and tell you how Attukal Devi has blessed them with progeny and wishes of bountiful life.


Devotees from all parts of India come and bow before the all powerful goddess, seeking an end to their afflictions and to receive blessings.


Temple Architecture

The architecture of Attukal temple has elements of both Kerala and Tamil architecture styles. The exteriors of the temple are carved with hundreds of sculptures of gods, goddesses, the stories of Dasavataram of Lord Vishnu,Goddess Kannagi (Kannaki), Dakshayaga etc. The main building also depicts Goddess Kali, Sree Parvathy, Lord Siva, Rajarajeshwari, and several others. The Gopura (main rise building) is covered by such idols, which surely are a work of a team of artisans under the leadership of an able sculptor.


The temple doors and internal corridors also have several sculptures of Gods like Lord Ganapathi (Ganesh), Lord Siva, etc.


The Principal Deity
Located in the sanctum sanctorum is the main idol of Attukal Devi, which is adored with gold ornaments and gems. The idol is a sight of marvel, with abundance radiance of beauty and light.


Attukal Devi Temple


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 Kaliyuga.




The History and Mythology


A few centuries ago, the head of Mulluveettil family was met with a young girl who asked him to help her cross the Killi river in which he was performing his ritualistic prayers. The Karanavar (family head) knew it was no ordinary girl, because of her charm and charisma. He bowed before her and willingly took her to the other side of the river. He invited her to his home nearby and the whole family was preparing to receive this girl. However, they couldn't find her as she had disappeared by the time Mulluveettil family was ready to receive her.


The Karanavar and his family were a little puzzled. The Karanavar (family head) saw the girl once again in his dream, in the same day as he saw the little girl. The girl appeared as an icon and told him to give her an abode in the nearby kavu (a grove where shrubs and wild animals including snakes are left undisturbed). She told him that he would see three lines at a specific point in the kavu and she wanted her abode erected there.


With joy, the old man reached the Kavu and to his surprise, he found three lines marked on the ground. He knew it was a sacred spot and he wasted no time erecting a temple. The temple became the abode of the goddess, who later came to be known as Attukal Devi (or Attukal Amma). Local devotees offered their prayers in this temple and soon the fame of this temple spread far and wide. The people also offered to renovate the temple and a bigger temple with a new icon was installed. The goddess was represented as a woman with four arms, each bearing a spear, sword, skull and shield. The then high priest of Badrinath Temple led the consecration ceremony.




The girl that appeared before the Karanavar of Mulluveettil family is known to be Kannaki. Kannaki is the famous heroine of Silappadikaram, a Tamil epic written by Ilango Adikal. She is the incarnation of Sri Parvathy, the consort of Lord Siva. She took this incarnation of destroyer goddess, to destroy the evil and to preserve good. Kannaki was returning from Madurai, a city which she has destroyed, when she took a sojourn at Attukal and let the Karanavar see her as a little girl. She was on her way to Kodungalloor.