The annual Attukal Pongala, billed the largest congregation of women, will be held on the premises of the Attukal Bhagavathy temple here in compliance with COVID-19 protocols on February 27.
Rituals such as ‘Kutthiyottam,’ ‘Vilakkukettu,’ and ‘Thalapoli’, held as part of the 10-day festival commencing on February 19, have been dropped from this year’s festival schedule. However, ‘Annadanam’ will be held at Amba auditorium adhering to the green protocol and COVID-19 guidelines, and food will be made available in packets.
Entry inside the temple compound for offering Pongala on February 27 will be through online registration, on the lines of norms implemented by the police and the Travancore Devaswom Board for worship at the Ayyappa temple in Sabarimala.
A decision to this effect was taken at a high-level meeting chaired by Minister for Devaswom Kadakampally Surendran here on Wednesday. The meeting was convened following a demand from the Attukal Bhagavathy temple trust to frame guidelines for conduct of the Pongala in the wake of the pandemic.
It was decided that rituals in connection with the temple festival would be held as per tradition while avoiding crowding. A decision on how many people could be allowed entry would be taken later. City Corporation wards near the Attukal Bhagavathy temple would be declared the festival zone, but no permission would be granted to offer Pongala on roads or in public places. People, though, could offer Pongala at their houses.
The Minister directed officials of various departments to complete works to be done ahead of the festival at the earliest.
V. S. Sivakumar, MLA; Mayor Arya Rajendran; councillors; Principal Secretary, Devaswom, K.R. Jyothilal; District Police Chief (Thiruvananthapuram City) Balram Kumar Upadhyay; and temple trust officials attended the meeting.