Millions Of Women Throng Kerala Festival

Millions Of Women Throng Kerala Festival
March 13th, 2010

UNITED KINGDOM, March 2010: India’s southern state of Kerala may have hosted the largest gathering of women ever seen on the planet. Clad in traditional Kerala saris and bearing offerings of food, more than two million women thronged the state capital Trivandrum on Sunday.

The women braved searing heat to offer a special meal at the Attukal temple to Hindu Goddess Bhagavathy – one incarnation of the potent Goddesses Kali and Saraswati. They were seeking her blessing for the health and prosperity of their families – and the special meal, known as the pongala, was later distributed among family and friends back at home.

This is a unique festival the size of which is unmatched. Guinness Worlds Records certified the crowd strength was 1.5 million when it was assessed for the first time in 1997. Last year turnout was 2.5 million and this year, according to festival organizers, it was estimated to be 3 million. It is an elaborate logistical feat: almost 3,000 police, 600 of them women, were on duty around the clock. Two hundred priests positioned themselves at different points to sprinkle holy water on the pongala.

Dianne Jennet has been coming every year since 1997 from San Francisco. The collective spirituality she observed in female devotees at Attukal became the subject of of her PhD dissertation back in the United States. “There is nothing like this anywhere else in the world. It is amazing the way a whole city makes arrangements for women to make this offering. Nobody could imagine shutting down San Francisco for a day, blocking the vehicles for a women’s gathering,” she said.

Posted in Hindu Press International

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