Amme mahamaye

The voice that is heard throughout a city for almost 48 hours which ends with an awesome shower of flowers from the flying helicopters. Attukal Bhagavathy is a temple ,known as Sabarimala of women because of its unique largest gathering of women, situated in the heart of Thiruvananthapuram, Kerala, India. Thousands of woman offer KannakiĀ the deity who came to Attukal after setting fire to Madurai district for killing her husband.


The Goddess Kannaki (Bhadrakali) 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 Madhavi 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. They went with it to the king of Madurai to sell it. But an anklet was stolen from the Queen which looked similar to Kannagi’s. When Kovalan tried to sell it, he was mistaken for the theft 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 and Madurai burned. Kannagi is said to have attained salvation after the Goddess of the city appeared before her.

It is said that on her way to Kodungallur, 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. Godess Kodungalloor Amma (Bhadrakali/Kannaki) is believed to be present at Attukal during the festival days. Ponkala is offered to celebrate the victory of Kannaki over the king Pandya. Another story says that ‘Attukal devi’ is Bhadrakali, born from the third eye of lord Shiva to kill the demon king Daruka. Mother Bhadrakali is a form of Shakthi devi (Mahakali) worshipped mainly in Kerala. ‘Bhadra’ means good and ‘Kali’ means godess of time. So Bhadrakali is often referred as the godess of prosperity, time and salvation.


Festival like no other, Pongala, the largest congregation of women in the state, is celebrated at the renowned Attukal Bhagavathi Temple in Kerala’s capital city of Thiruvananthapuram. The festival entered the Guinness records for being the largest single gathering of women for a religious activity. Only women are allowed to participate in the Pongala ritual.

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. The pongala is offered by the devotees in the belief that the presiding deity of the temple – the Goddess – popularly known as Attukal Amma will be appeased.

As the festival sees a huge influx of devotees, the crowd spills over to the major roads in the city and the festival has a whole city reveling in festive splendor. And this repeat every year between February and March.

On this day, People of Thiruvananthapuram act as the host for the pilgrims who offer pongala as each and every door welcome everyone to be part of their home. And they eagerly wait for next pongala……. Me tooo….