“PONGAL” is a four-day harvest festival celebrated in Tamilnadu. This festival falls in the Tamil month தை(Thai)(10th month of Tamil calendar, January-February season Ref: TamilCalendar) when crops like rice, sugarcane and turmeric etc., are harvested. Pongal in Tamil means “overflowing”, this festival is celebrated by people to offer thanksgiving to Sun God. Seeking sun god’s permission for a successful harvest and attract good luck, prosperity, happiness and peace in their life.
HOW IS IT CELEBRATED IN TAMILNADU
A few weeks prior to Pongal festival, preparations begin with cleaning and decoration of houses. In this part of the region, the festival is celebrated as a 4-day carnival.
The first day is dedicated to Lord Indiran
Second day is dedicated to Lord Sun
Third day is dedicated to livestock especially cattle
Fourth day for meeting friends and relatives.
DAY 1 – BHOGI FESTIVAL
Bhogi festival is celebrated on the last day of Tamil month Maargazhi to seek blessings of Lord Indiran. On this day, all the households follow the tradition of cleaning their houses and throwing all the unwanted household articles into the bonfire made of wood and cow-dung cakes. This symbolizes eliminating negative energies from the house and attracting positive energies.
DAY 2 – PONGAL FESTIVAL
The second day of Pongal is known as “Surya Pongal” and is dedicated to the Lord Sun. People also call Pongal as “Tamizhar Thirunaal” and “Uzhavar Thirunaal”. The actual celebration begins here and it is the first day of the Tamil month தை (Thai).
People wear their traditional dresses on this day. The house is decorated with flowers, mango leaf, thoranam and sugarcane. Women wake early in the morning to make huge and beautiful kolam(rangoli) using colored rice flour, outside their homes. The newly harvested rice, jaggery and turmeric are used to cook the traditional dish “Pongal”. In villages, people gather in open space and celebrate the festival. A designed mud pot with turmeric plant tied around them and a mud stove is used to prepare the dish. The milk is boiled in that pot, and the overflowing of milk and rice is a joyous occasion for the children and adults. They shout “Pongal-o-Pongal” and blow the conch(sangu).
Two different Pongal, “Chakara Pongal”(sweet pongal), “Ven Pongal”(kara pongal) and a Kuttu(a mixed gravy of all country vegetables, groundnut and cereals) are prepared and offered to the Lord Sun. Along with this, sticks of sugarcane, coconuts and bananas are also offered.
DAY 3 – MATTU PONGAL
On the third day, Mattu Pongal is celebrated. It is the day of cows. A group of cows decorated with bells, colourful beads and flowers are taken to the village centres. Those cows are fed with Pongal dish. An aarti is performed to keep evil energies away and also to thank the cows for helping farmers to produce more crops. A traditional game called Jallikattu( Eru Thazhuvuthal) is a part of the celebration.
DAY 4 – KAANUM PONGAL
The fourth day is celebrated as Kaanum Pongal day. The families of every house express their gratitude for their elders, women pray for prosperity and happiness and sisters pray for the welfare of their brothers. On this day, a turmeric leaf is washed and placed on the ground. The leftover pongal, plain rice and red-yellow coloured grains, sugarcane bits, betel – nuts and leaves and turmeric are placed on that leaf. It is later placed in an open-air space for the birds.