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    City streets take a new avatar

    THIRUVANANTHAPURAM: The major thoroughfares in the city, which usually sink in the honking of vehicles and the hustle and bustle of busy life in the mornings, witnessed an altogether different scene on Wednesday. Temporary hearths made of bricks were lined up on either side of the road. Women devotees hailing from different places, with a majority clad in the traditional ‘set mundu’ and Kerala sarees, were seen busy readying the ingredients to make Pongala concoctions, ‘payasam’, ‘therali’, ‘vellachoru’ and the like to please Attukalamma to get their wishes fulfilled.Two ladies, Lakshmikutty and Chellamma Bhaskara Pillai, in their late seventies, had travelled all the way from Mavelikkara and reached the city a day in advance for offering the ‘Pongala.’ Even though they looked feeble, their staunch faith did not stop them from taking pains on this occasion.“We are getting old, but coming for Attukal Pongala has been a part of my life for the past nine years and will continue till the time my health permits,” said Lakshmikutty.A lady from Kollam, clad in a silk saree, and adorned with jasmine flowers on her tresses, and was offering ‘Pongala’ for the first time.“I have got two children and it was not possible for me to leave them as they were too small. This time, I entrusted them with my husband’s relatives and so could make it for the Pongala,” said Shylaja Ramesh, who was making ‘sharkara payasam.’For foreigners, the ritual, having the participation of so many women, was a matter of wonder. Anna Lina Heller and Patrick Kaiser, a German couple, had come to Kerala for a social welfare project. Knowing little about the occasion, they found this custom “very special” and appreciated the devotion shown by Kerala women to their families. Like previous years, this time also, the ritual happened to be an example of communal harmony, with a lot many institutions and places of worship opening their doors for devotees to offer Pongala. Churches and mosques facilitated the devotees with the basic amenities required for preparing Pongala.