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Feminist Goddess


.....Further south in  Thiruvananthapuram, at the  Attukal  Devi  Temple, there is a 23 year waiting period for the Muzhukappu  puja (Goddess' make up). The temple's famed  Ponkala festival  attracts the largest congregation  of  women , about 25 lakhs, in  the  state (Kerala). They stand  in a queue - last year's was 15 km long- and  cook  payasam  in earthen pots to please the Goddess. Men are barred entry into the temple during the festival. "The deity here is considered a feminist, believed to protect the women devotees from persecution by males, including husbands", says G Madhavan Nair, temple trust president. The congregation has even attracted the attention of the Guinness Book of Records, whose representatives are trying to ascertain whether it is indeed the largest religious gathering of women. [Source: India Today, November 5, 2001]