(Published in Australian Women Online, March 2010)
The Guiness Book of World Records has declared the Pongala Festival in Southern India, as the largest religious congregation of women on earth. In 2010 more than two million women made the pilgrimage to Thiruvananthapuram to cook on the streets for the Goddess, in what some have described as the best symbol of women’s empowerment ever witnessed.
It’s almost midnight on Saturday, February 27, 2010 but Thiruvananthapuram, the sleepy town, which draws its shop shutters by about eight at night, is still wide awake. The nerve centre of the city looks like a landscape of migration, the railways stations and bus-stands are literally under siege, only the crowds seem to be inward bound and those that come in are curiously and predominantly of the female gender. Continue reading “Hearths on the Highway: millions of women gather for Pongala Festival”