In the third century, a poet in the ancient Cōḻ capital of Uṟaiyūr, on the banks of the Kāvērī river opposite the island of Śrīraṅkam, looked into the sad face of his lover and said that her face reminded him of the bank of the Kāavērī strewn with stalks of banana plants after the celebration of the Paṅkuṇi festival on Śrīraṅkam island. Although this early reference to the Paṅkuṇi festival being celebrated on Śrīraṅkam island dates from a period when the great Paṅkuṇi temple must have been at most a minor shrine, it seems likely that the Paṅkuṇi festival of today is a direct descendent of that early celebration. When inscriptions were carved on the temple walls between the tenth and eighteenth centuries they regularly mention the Paṅkuṇi festival as one of the main features of the temple's ritual, and references in the temple chronicle also seem to assume a continuous performance of this festival. As other festivals began to crowd into the temple calendar the Pankuni festival came to be known as the
Ātifestival or the ‘Original’ Festival in order to distinguish it from all others.