Pongala is a Hindu religious festival. The name 'Pongala' means 'to boil over' and refers to the ritualistic offering of porridge made of rice, sweet brown molasses, coconut gratings, nuts and raisins. Only women devotees are allowed to participate in this ritual.
Rice, coconut and jaggery are brought by women devotees along with round earthen pots for cooking. Women participating in the Pongala squat on roads, bylanes, footpaths and shop fronts in a radius of several kilometres around the temple to cook the mixture of rice, jaggery and coconut in earthen pots that is offered to the goddess seeking divine blessings. The Chief Priest of the temple lights the main hearth from the divine fire inside the sanctum sanctorum. This fire is exchanged from one oven to another.
The annual Pongala festival of Attukal Bhagavathi temple here, one of the world's biggest devotional congregations of women, has made it to the Guinness Book of World Records. The festival, which draws over 1.5 million women on a single day in March to perform the Pongala ritual, is getting mention in the Guinness book in the category of events attended by more than a million people.