Attukal Bhagavathi Temple – A holy abode for women devotees


Attukal Bhagavathi temple is a holy shrine of Goddess Kannaki who is said to be the reincarnation of Goddess Parvathy. The shrine is mostly frequented by women devotees. Hence, it is called the Shabarimala of women. According to the belief held by most devotees, the Goddess treats her devotees as children and protects them from all evil forces. In order to strengthen the bonds between devotees and the Goddess, Pongala Maholsavam is being conducted every year.

Introduction


Attukal Bhagavathi temple is a holy shrine in the capital city of Kerala. The main festival in the temple is called Attukal Pongala in which over a million women devotees participate to offer pongala for pleasing the presiding deity of the temple. Since the women constitute the major portion of devotees visiting the shrine, it is called Shabarimala of Women. The temple is situated about two kilometers away from the famous Padmanabha Swamy temple. The presiding deity of the temple is called Kannaki. The Goddess of the shrine is worshipped as the supreme creator of all living and non-living things in the world. The devotees of the region believe that a visit to the Padmanabha Swamy temple is not complete without offering a visit at the holy shrine of Attukal Bhagavathi.

Mythology and History


According to the legends doing rounds, Goddess revealed herself in the dreams of a young girl devotee of a Nair family. As per the instructions she got from the Goddess in her dream, she appeared before the head of the family requesting him to help her cross the Killi river. The legends further say that the old man of the family got so impressed with her charisma that he helped her cross the river and took her to his house nearby with reverence. The legend further adds that the girl suddenly vanished from the house when the members of the family were preparing to welcome her. In the very same night, the Goddess appeared in the dreams of the old man to instruct him to establish a holy shrine for her in a nearby place with herbs and shrubs. In the dream, he was further told that the place would have three lines at a consecrated spot. To his surprise in the next day, he did find the three lines at a spot in the place revealed in his dream. After having found the divine marks in the place, he lost no time in building a temple at that spot to house the Goddess there. Years later, the temple was further renovated by local devotees of the presiding deity. As part of the renovation, they installed a beautiful icon of the Goddess with four arms. In each of the four arms of the icon of the deity, they had installed different weapons of destruction. The priest from the Badrinath temple consecrated the Exalted Being at the temple premises in the presence of a sea of devotees.

Temple Festivals


Here the presiding deity is also worshiped as Kannaki who finds the mention in Chilapathikaram written by Tamil poet Elenkovadikal. Kannaki is supposed to the incarnation of Goddess Parvathy, the better half of Lord Parameshwara. After the destruction of Madurai city, Kannaki left for Kodungaloor via Thiruvananthapuram and Nagarcoil. En route to Kodungaloor, she thought to have rested at the Attukal temple location for a while. Hence, it is believed that almighty Devi rules supreme in Attukal temple, and looks after the devotees like a mother. The main festival at the temple is Pongala festival. During this festival, about a million women devotees congregate and offer pongala, a special preparation made in southern Kerala and parts of Tamil Nadu, to the presiding deity. Other festivals observed in the shrine are listed below.
  1. Mandala Vrutham: This is a festival in connection with mandala pooja maholsavam at Shabarimala.

  2. Vinayaka Chathurthy: It is a festival to honor the Lord Ganesh.

  3. Pooja Vayipu: This is a festival in connection with annual Navaratri.

  4. Shivaratri: It is a festival to offer pooja to Lord Shiva.

  5. Karthika: Lighting of Karthika deepams at the temple premises.

Rituals at Temple


On a daily basis, the following rituals are also performed at the temple premises to please other deities as well.
  1. Ayilya Pooja : A ritual in which the flowers, milk and turmeric are offered to serpent gods.

  2. Aiswarya Pooja: This is conducted by women folks on all full moon days.

  3. Nirayum Puthariyum: This is conducted annually during the Malayalam month of Karkadakam.

  4. Akandanama Japam: This ritual is performed on the fourth Sunday of every month.

Conclusion


Attukal Bhagavathy Temple is a holy shrine in the Thiruvananthapuram district of Kerala. The temple is the holy abode of Kannaki who is regarded as an incarnation of Goddess Parvathy, the wife of Lord Shiva. According to the ardent believers of the deity, the Goddess is consecrated in the temple as the supreme creator of all living beings in this world. The temple conducts different festivals in different points in time. Of these, the Pongala Maholsavam is the most important festival in the shrine. During this festival, women from different parts of Kerala and Tamil Nadu assemble, and offer pongala to the Goddess. The sanctuary of the Goddess is considered as Shabarimala of women, as the majority of the devotees going there are women.


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