Ponkala (on the 6th day of celebration)
This is a religious festival. The name ‘Ponkala’ means “to boil over” and it is a ritualistic offering of porridge made of rice, sweet brown molasses, coconut gratings, nuts and raisins. Commonly, women devotees participated in this ritual. Rice, coconut and jaggery are brought by women devotees along with round earthen pots for cooking. The chief priest of the temple lights the main harth from the divine fire in the sanctum sanctorum. This fire is exchanged from one oven to another. On the ‘Ponkala day’ a large congregation of women devotees squat at the temple premises, on roads , footpath, by lanes and shop fronts in a radius of many kilometers to cook the mixture of rice, jaggary and coconut in earthen pots that is offered to Goddess seeking divine blessings.
Devi is considered to be the mother Goddess of ancient people of Kerala and Tamilnadu. In India this belief is evolved from the deity “kottave” worshiped on the peak of “Aayiramala”. During ancient times, the whole people from the nearby villages use to assemble on this hill and stayed there during the entire celebrations lasting for several days. During this time woman took path in social cooking which was believed to the holly and propitious by the Goddess. Such social cooking strengthened the bonds between these villages. This custom is still continue in the form of Ponkala. Ponkala festival is mainly celebrated at Aattukal Temple, Puthiyakavu, Mulloothara Devi Temple, Kovilvila Bhagavathy Temple, Chakkulathukavu Bhagavathy Temple, Karikayam Temple, Kanjirottu Valiyaveedu Temple, Panekkavu Bhagavathy Temple and Thazhoor Bhagavathy Temple. The annual ponkala of Aattukal Bhagavathy Temple has been entered in the Guinness Book of World Record as the largest congregation of women in the world. The festival witness 2.5 million devotees on a single day on March perform the ponkala ritual. Ponkala Festival at Elanthoor Bhagavathykkunnu Devi Temple is also very famous. Elanthoor Devi Temple ponkala is witnessed by a set of humanity that has gathered along the