The city police has put the festival zone under surveillance using CCTV cameras and drones.
The stage is set for the Attukal Pongala in Thiruvananthapuram city where tens of thousands of women have congregated for making an annual offering to the deity, Attukal Bhagavathy, today.
The grounds of the Attukal Bhagavathy Temple, which is at the epicentre of the festivities and an area covering a 10 km radius in the state capital are lined with makeshift stoves which will be lit once the temple tantri lights the ‘Pandara Aduppu’ – the main hearth – by 10.15 a.m.
The Attukal Pongala — for long dubbed as the Women’s Sabarimala — had in 2009 entered the Guinness Book of Records as the largest gathering of women.
The Attukal Pongala, where women make an offering to the deity which is chiefly made up of rice, jaggery, coconut gratings and ghee, is celebrated on the ninth day of the annual festival at the temple.
On February 20 morning, thousands of women lined up at the Attukal Temple to offer prayers to the deity before preparing the Pongala offering. The ritual will conclude with the sprinkling of holy water on the hearths by 2.15 p.m.
The government departments and the State Disaster Management Authority have made elaborate arrangements for the smooth conduct of the festival this year. The police has deployed 3700 personnel as part of beefing up security. The city police has also put the festival zone under surveillance using CCTV cameras and drones.
The Health Department, Fire Force, Kerala Water Authority and the Power Department have made arrangements for the conduct of the festival. The Kerala State Road Transport Department is conducting special services for the safe return of the devotees.