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Pongala is about equality: Sudha Murty

Writer Sudha Murty has said she will write about the Attukal Pongala. “Or I will talk about it in my speech.”

The Padma Shri award winner was in the State capital to offer the Pongala to the Attukal Devi on Tuesday.

The festival, Ms. Murty said, was a different experience, for there were no slogans. “It is ‘nari shakti.’ So many women, on their own coming from so many places. There is so much equality as caste, no religion, no rich or poor...all together and helping each other, even if they may never see the other again.”

She said she asked a fellow participant if the rice was done and was told to let it cook some more; she shared coconut with someone, and helped someone else out with cardamom. “It is helping each other without making slogans, or anyone giving instructions that this or that has to be done. I like that equality.”

Ms. Murty whose daughter Akshata is married to British Prime Minister Rishi Sunak said she was not praying for anything particular, but was here to just participate in the huge gathering of women, just ahead of International Women’s Day on Wednesday.

The Infosys Foundation, she said, had done a lot of work after the floods in the State. In 2019, when she had come down to meet the Chief Minister to hand over the flood relief, she heard about the Pongala and wanted to take part in it. However, the next year COVID-19 spread, and she could not make it. This year, she came down to offer Pongala accompanied by Leena Gopakumar, her secretary who is a Keralite, and Devi Padmanabhan, a city resident.

Even the heat and the smoke from the hearths did not dampen her enthusiasm for she is no stranger to them. “I was brought up in Shiggaon in northern Karnataka. There was no electricity or gas there in my childhood. So I know how to increase or reduce the heat in the hearth.”

Ms. Murty made Pongala using red rice, jaggery, ghee, dry fruits, coconut, all cooked in Kerala style. Though her husband Infosys co-founder N.R. Narayana Murty is away from the country, she will take the Pongala for her daughter-in-law Aparna who is from Kochi and her son Rohan, in the good old tiffin carrier.


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