Thousands of devotees from different parts of the State as well as the bordering districts of Tamil Nadu offered Pongala Nivedyom (rice kheer) to the presiding deity of the famous Chakulathukavu Bhagavathy Temple at Neerettupuram near Thiruvalla as part of the annual Karthika Pongala festival held on Tuesday.
The small hamlet of Neerettupuram situated on the banks of river Pampa has been turned into a sea of humanity with scores of women devotees thronging the village and surrounding areas to take part in the ritualistic Pongala festival on Tuesday.
The atmosphere was charged with devotion and hymns in praise of Goddess Bhadrakaali rented the air.
A good number of devotees were camping at the temple premises for the past two days to participate in the annual festival.
The festival began with the auspicious Ashtadravya Maha Ganapati homom in the morning. The temple Chief Priest, Radhakrishnan Namboodiri, lighted the main Pongala hearth prepared in front of the temple with the sacred fire brought from the sanctum sanctorum at 9 am. Mr. Namboodiri then put rice for preparing the Pongala Nivedyom into the vessel on the main hearth.
The fire from the main hearth was then transferred to the small hearths prepared in the temple premises as well as the surrounding areas. Devotees prepared rice kheer on the small makeshift hearths set up along almost all the major roads in the 30-km radius of the temple.
The line of devotees offering Pongala on the wayside was found extended upto Thakazhy on the Thiruvalla-Alappuzha route, upto Chennithala junction on the Thiruvalla-Mavelikkara Road and along the Muthoor-Chengannur stretch of the MC Road.
A total of 21 teams of priests led by the temple administrator, Manikkuttan Namboodiri, springled holy water (theerthom) and flowers on the Pongala prepared by the devotees, symbolising its acceptance by the presiding deity, later.
A cultural meeting was held at the temple premises, later in the afternoon. Mr. Kodikkunnil Suresh, MP, inaugurated the meeting presided by the Kuttanad MLA, Thomas Chandy.
The temple Chief Priest, Radhakrishnan Namboodiri, delivered the benedictory speech. Mr. Manikkuttan Namboodiri, administrator, Mr. Suresh Kavumbhagom, public relations officer, also spoke.
Rasul Pookkuty hounoured
Mr. Rasul Pookkutty, Oscar Award winner, was presented with this year’s Chakulathamma Swaravarsha Puraskarom on the occasion.
Mr. V.C.Anandabose, NAFED chairman, lit the Karthika-sthambhom after the deeparadhana at the temple, marking the culmination of the annual Pongala festival, later in the evening.