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PATHANAMTHITTA: The annual Karthika Pongala festival at Chakkulathukavu Bhagavathy Temple at Neerettupuram, near Thiruvalla here, was held with religious fervour on Sunday.
Thousands of woman devotees offered Pongala (rice kheer) to the presiding deity as part of the festival. Devotees from different parts of the State and the neighbouring Tamil Nadu thronged Neerettupuram and surrounding villages to offer Pongala to the deity, braving the rain, on Sunday.
The festival began with the temple chief priest, Radhakrishnan Namboodiri, performing Ashtadravya Maha Ganapati Homom in the morning. Kummanam Rajashekharan, Hindu Aikyavedi general secretary, formally inaugurated the ritualistic event by lighting a lamp.
The chief priest lighted the main Pongala hearth with the sacred fire brought from the sanctum sanctorum and put the rice for preparing the kheer in a large vessel at 9.15 a.m.
Manikkuttan Namboodiri, temple administrator, K.K. Gopalakrishnan Nair, temple development committee president, Suresh Kavumbhagom, PRO and D. Vijayakumar, Akhila Bharatha Ayyappa Seva Sanghom vice-president, were among those who attended the inaugural ceremony.
The fire in the main hearth was transferred to the small hearths prepared by devotees on the temple premises and surrounding areas amidst loud chants of hymns in praise of Goddess Durga. Lining up along various major roads in and around Neerettupuram, Edathua, Podiyadi, Kavumbhagom and Thiruvalla, devotees prepared Pongala on makeshift hearths as their offering to the presiding deity.
As many as 30 teams of priests, led by temple administrator Manikkuttan Namboodiri took out ‘jeevitha processions' in different parts of Neerettupuram and Thiruvalla and sprinkled holy waters and flowers on the Pongala prepared by the devotees, marking “divine acceptance” of the same.
A cultural meeting was held as part of the festival in the afternoon. Manikkuttan Namboodiri inaugurated the meet and the temple chief priest delivered the benedictory speech. C.V. Anandabose, IAS officer, lighted the Karthikasthambhom after the Deeparadhana at the temple, marking the culmination of the festival.
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