Largest Annual Gathering of Women
Attukal temple in Kerala, India, is regarded by the devout as the abode of the goddess Attukal Bhagavati, who is worshipped as the supreme preserver and destroyer. Devotees from all parts of India come to pray before the goddess, seeking an end to their afflictions and to receive blessings.
Attukal Pongala (also Attukal Ponkala) is the most reputed festival of this temple, which attracts devotees from all parts of India. Tens of hundreds of women devotees throng together on the day of Pongala with their offerings to the Goddess and to seek blessings. Pongala festival is a ten-day long festival and on the 9th day of the festival is the famous Pongala. On that day, thousands of women crowd around the temple to offer Pongala (rice porridge) in earthen pots. The intense rush of women is regarded as the largest annual congregation of women anywhere in the world. The Guinness Book of World Records based this fact on the number of pilgrims on 23 February 1997, when 1.5 million women assembled to offer Pongala to Attukal Devi. (Guinness Cerificate)
The rush of women is explained by G Madhavan Nair, temple trust president, "The deity here is considered a feminist, believed to protect the women devotees from persecution by males, including husbands."
India Today (November 5, 2001)