THIRUVANANTHAPURAM: The State Government has sanctioned Rs 12 crore for urgent development activities in connection with the Attukal Pongala, Finance Minister K M Mani said. The sum was allocated in the last Budget for the Attukal Development project.
The development project encompasses 18 wards of the Thiruvananthapuram Corporation. Although public works worth Rs 12.5 crore were approved earlier, they did not take off owing to paucity of funds. It was in this context that the Government allocated special funds in the Budget.
An additional inflow of nearly five lakh devotees, many of them from outside the State, is expected this year for the Attukal Pongala, according to the Attukal Bhagavathy Temple Trust.
The Pongala, dubbed the Women’s Sabarimala, will be celebrated on March 7 this year. "The police have told us to expect an additional five lakh devotees this year. As parking facilities had been arranged in Attukal for Sabarimala pilgrims visiting the Sree Padmanabha Swamy Temple, a lot of enquiries have come regarding the Attukal Devi Temple, especially from devotees outside the State. The police have asked us to expect more devotees from Tamil Nadu, Karnataka and Andhra Pradesh,’’ Trust secretary Jyothish Kumar M S said.
According to the Trust, 30-35 lakh women are expected this year. As usual, the Temple Trust has requested the public not to make the Pongala offerings too far away from the temple.
Devotees have also been asked not to make the offerings on the streets. This is also one request that has been rejected by the devotees year after year.
Temple officials themselves admit that the Attukal region and the demarcated grounds such as the parking space near the temple, and the campuses of ITC and the nearby hospital plus the compounds of houses in the region can, at the maximum, accommodate five lakh devotees.
‘’We are happy that large numbers of devotees are attending. But why we ask devotees not to make the offerings too far away from the temple is to prevent a break in the line of devotees,’’ Jyothish Kumar said.
The Pongala festivities will begin on February 28. The Pongala proper is on March 7 and the festival will conclude the next day.