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Kerala: CPI(M) workers put up hoarding covering saffron flags at Attukal Temple during Pongala festival, Hindu activists tear it down leading to clashes with police

Attukal Bhagavathy Temple was decorated with saffron flags for the 10-day-long Attukal Pongala festival, but CPI(M) workers installed a hoarding featuring the local MLA and CM Pinarayi Vijayan covering the flags. This led to tension and Hindu activists tore it down on Tuesday evening

Strong resistance is building against the Communist Party of India-Marxist (CPI-M) for its actions targeting Hindu temples. Now, the latest attack has been unleashed at Thiruvananthapuram’s Attukal Bhagavathy temple. The communist workers removed saffron flags and other decorations put up at the temple for the Attukal Pongala festival and then erected a hoarding glorifying the Kerala CM, covering some of the saffron flags. This resulted in protests by Hindu groups, who removed the hoarding amid a clash with the police.

The 10-day-long Attukal Pongala started at the Attukal Bhagavathy Temple in Thiruvananthapuram on February 17. The temple was decorated with various items for the festival, including saffron flags, by the Hindu Aikya Vedi. However, the CPI(M) was not happy with this, and they removed some saffron flags and other decorations. Moreover, at the the entrance, they put up a hoarding, covering saffron flags put up there.

Reportedly, the hoarding featuring the local MLA and the Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan was set up by Ward Councilor Unnikrishnan. The hoarding read, “Greetings to the Kerala State Government for granting Rs 2.5 crore for renovation works in connection with Attukal Pongala.”

Hindu devotees including Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) members were incensed by this and requested that the sign be taken down. There was tension over the hoarding in the area for the last couple of days. The hoarding was removed on Monday, but it reappeared in the next day, on 20th February. This infuriated the Hindu devotees, and they tore down the hoarding in the evening, leading to an altercation with the police.

The incident took place at around 5 PM on Tuesday, after the hoarding was again placed in front of the temple by the CPI(M) workers. When the Hindus including BJP workers attempted to remove the hoarding, the police tried to stop them. This led to an argument and then a clash between the Hindu activists and the police. During the altercation, some BJP workers ripped down the hoarding.

After the clash, several activists were taken into custody by the police. BJP workers then demonstrated outside the Fort Police Station protesting against the detentions.

The CPI(M) has come under fire for politicizing the temple’s religious festivities. Moreover, there are accusations that these operations are the result of political retaliation against the charitable endeavours carried out by Hindu groups, particularly in light of the impending Attukal Pongala day. Devotees have become indignant because such acts are perceived as a direct affront to temple rites. They are preparing to intensify their demonstrations against the CPI(M) for their ongoing provocative acts on the grounds of the temple.

Attukal Bhagavathy Temple

The Attukal Bhagavathy Temple is a Hindu religious shrine at Attukal in Kerala, India. Goddess Bhadrakali (Kannaki), mounted over ‘vethala’ is the main deity in this temple. Bhadrakali, a form of Mahakali, who killed the demon king Daruka is believed to be born from the third eye of lord Shiva. ‘Bhadra’ means good and ‘Kali’ means goddess of time. Therefore, Bhadrakali is considered as the goddess of prosperity and salvation. Goddess ‘Attukal devi’ itself is the supreme mother ‘Bhaadrkali devi’ (in soumya aspect) the goddess of power and courage. She is often referred to as Kannaki, the heroine of Ilanko Adikal’s ‘Silapathikaaram’.

The temple is renowned for the annual Attukal Pongal festival, in which over three million women participate. Attukal Pongala is a religious celebration that has been attracting millions of women every year. It is recognized in the Guinness Book of World Records as the largest gathering of women for a single event.

Attukal Pongala is a 10-day religious festival celebrated at the Attukal Bhagavathy Temple in Thiruvananthapuram in the Indian state of Kerala. On the ninth day, there is a huge gathering of millions of women in the temple surroundings. These women prepare a divine food made of rice in earthen pots and offer it to the Attukal Amma (Goddess of the Temple). The pongala preparation starts with the ritual called ‘Aduppuvettu’. This is the lighting of the pongala hearth (called Pandarayaduppu) placed inside the temple by the chief priest. This is the earliest Pongala festival in Kerala.

The festival is marked as the largest annual gathering of women by the Guinness World Records. The ceremony was set up in the Guinness Book of World Records on February 23, 1997, when 1.5 million women participated in Pongala. Notably, men are not allowed to participate in the festival. In 2009, a new Guinness World Record celebrated 2.5 million attendance. This temple is also known as the Sabarimala for Women.

Attukal Temple is located in the city’s centre, two kilometres from Sree Padmanabhaswamy Temple and the East Fort in Thiruvananthapuram. Devotees believe that all of their wishes will be fulfilled by the goddess, provide prosperity and can attain salvation. Attukal devi is often worshipped in 3 forms such as Maha Saraswati (goddess of knowledge, arts, and language), Maha Lakshmi (goddess of wealth, auspiciousness, and power) and Mahakali/ Parvathy (goddess of marriage, time and death).

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OpIndia Staffhttps://www.opindia.com
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