All arrangements in place for Attukal Pongala ritual to be held on March 7

10-day festival to begin tomorrow; fire will be lit in ‘pandara aduppu’ on Pongala day at 10.30 a.m.

February 25, 2023 08:05 pm | Updated February 26, 2023 12:35 am IST - Thiruvananthapuram

Arrangements for the 10-day Attukal Pongala festival that will begin on Monday are nearly complete.

It is after a gap of two years that the festival is being held without the threat of COVID-19 looming large.

At a press conference here on Saturday, Attukal Bhagavthy Temple Trust chairperson A. Geethakumari, festival general convener G. Jayalakshmi, and other office-bearers said the festival would get under way at 4.30 a.m. on Monday with the ‘Kappuketti Kudiiruthal’ ritual.

Kuthiyottam will be held on the Wednesday. This year, more than 700 children in the 10-12 age group will take part in the ritual.

The famed Attukal Pongala will be held on March 7, the penultimate day of the festival. Fire will be lit in the ‘‘pandara aduppu’, main hearth set up in front of the temple, at 10.30 a.m. As the lore of the killing of the Pandyan king by Kannagi is sung, Tantri Thekkedathu Kuzhikattilathu Parameswaran Vasudevan Bhattathiripad will hand over a sacred flame from the sanctum sanctorum to Melsanthi P. Kesavan Namboothiri who will light the Pongala hearth in the temple and pass on the flame to his associate who will light the main hearth in front of the temple. The Pongala ‘nivedyam’ will be at 2.30 p.m. Nearly 300 priests have been specially deployed for the nivedyam.

Thalappoli will be held that day, as also the ‘Ezhunelippu’ ritual on the elephant Thrikkadavur Sivaraju at 10.15 p.m. that night.

Nearly 4,000 people will be able to offer their prayers at the temple at a time. Three barricades will be put up to regulate queues. Drinking water will be provided to those queuing up. Devotees should enter the temple through the north entrance, exit through the south entrance, and after offering prayers to other deities make the final exit through the western entrance near Devi auditorium.

Special counters will be opened for devotees to get receipts for rituals.

Annadanam will be arranged at Amma and Karthika auditoriums. All personnel on duty at the temple can have food at a mess that will function on all nine days.

Bus services will run from various depots of the Kerala State Road Transport Corporation to the temple.

Medical teams and ambulances will be deployed at various places on the Pongala day.

Nearly 4,000 police personnel will also be posted. Volunteers too will be at hand to help devotees.

Food Safety Department has already conducted a class for those cooking food at the mess and for annadanam and other kitchen staff.

Nine temple committees have been making the arrangements for the festival. Five review meetings have also been conducted by the government, two of them presided over by Minister for General Education V. Sivankutty.

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