Kerala celebrates Attukul Pongala festival amid coronavirus scare

Prashasti Awasthi Mumbai | Updated on March 09, 2020

Devotees offering prayers before lighting the fire at the annual Attukal Pongala festival in Thiruvananthapuram, Kerala on Monday. Photo: S.Gopakumar/The Hindu

Millions of women in Kerala have assembled to celebrate the Attukul Pongala festival, which is considered as the largest gathering of women, amid coronavirus panic in the state. Six fresh cases have been confirmed -- including a 3-year-old toddler -- in Kerala since Sunday. Several women, participating in the festivity, were seen wearing masks, as per media reports.

In Thiruvananthapuram, the heart of the Attukal Pongala festivity, women from neighbouring states have also participated.

Kerala Health Minister KK Shailaja had dismissed to call off the festival on Sunday over the coronavirus scare that has gripped the state.

Last month, three people suffering from coronavirus in Kerala -- first ones to get infected in the country -- had recovered. However, fresh cases erupted on Sunday when five members of a family tested positive. Three of them with travel history to Italy did not disclose it and infected others in the family, News18 reported.

Kerala Health Minister has urged people who are dealing with respiratory problems to not come out in public places.

According to Thiruvananthapuram District Collector K Gopalakrishnan, several measures have been put in place to control the spread.

As a precautionary measure, twenty-three medical teams, 40 ambulances including bike ambulances will be positioned across Thiruvananthapuram. Local authorities will monitor specific areas in the city that are prone to the spread of the disease. They will also keep track of people’s health conditions.

He said to News18: "Devotees will be under video surveillance and all hotels have been asked to arrange Pongala facilities for foreigners within their premises. Near the temple- we will have a regular announcements, and equipment will be sanitized regularly.

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Published on March 09, 2020
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