Pongal is a festival that begins on January 14 and ends on January 17. For Tamilians, it is considered one of the most important celebrations. This event honors the Hindu Sun God and falls on the same day as Makar Sankranti. It is a four-day harvest celebration held at the beginning of the Tamil month of Thai. The traditional “Pongal,” which means “to boil and overflow,” is the inspiration for this celebration.
What happens on Pongal?
Throughout this festival, folks harvest crops like rice, grains, sugar cane, and other crops they have been producing. The smile after tremendous hard work glows on every person’s face. People join together and enjoy the day with feasting and immense delight. Pongal wishes spread between friends and family in the hopes of bringing them good luck, wealth, and prosperity.
Cows are holy animals in Hinduism, and people honor them throughout Pongal. The cows are frequently paraded around towns and cities, adorned with colorful beads, chiming bells, and garlands. People let them graze freely on this day.
The names of the four special days are –
- Bhogi Pongal – Bhogi Pongal, the first-day remarks worship of Lord Indra. People in South India worship him as the ultimate controller of the clouds and who brings the rains. They thank Lord Indra for the plentiful crop and prosperity he has given to the region. People extensively clean their houses to remove all types of negativity. Rangoli designs of colorful rice, flour, and petals lay on the ground. People decorate the doorways and windows of their houses.
- Surya Pongal – Surya Pongal is the second and most important day. A specific ceremony or prayer is done with a dish of rice and milk together. People offer it as a symbol to the sun deity with sugarcane stalks, coconuts, and bananas. These items lie in a clay pot. The main contribution is a dish – ‘Pongal.’ It is a delicious rice pudding, and its preparation is the festival’s most important activity.
- Mattu Pongal – Mattu Pongal is the third day of Pongal. Mattu refers to a cow, a valuable form of wealth in Hinduism. It provides dairy products and farming labor. As young men race their cattle in celebration, the streets ring with bells, and the mood becomes festive and full of joy. The cows are a symbol of a tradition to fend off evil.
- Kaanum Pongal – The last day of the festival is Kaanum Pongal. It brings the Pongal celebrations to an end for the year. This day features family reunions, visiting friends, and welcoming neighbors since the name “Kaanum” means “to visit.” Children go to their older relatives to offer them respect and seek blessings. Kanu Pidi is a custom that occurs on this day. People scatter turmeric leaves on the ground and cover them with Pongal, rice, and other items. The food is then put outdoors for the birds as gratitude.
Festivals are gatherings of people who celebrate our cultural or religious beliefs. Pongal is a Hindu festival, but other ethnicities celebrate it with equal integrity. It is a thanksgiving holiday held in various parts of India when people praise the Sun God for all of his blessings and harvest.
Pongal also marks the ending of the farming season. It allows farmers to take a break. Farmers also offer puja to the land that gives them bountiful harvests. Pongal evenings have always been full of fun. The games are a significant aspect of these festivities. Folk dances like Puli Vesham, Oliyattam, and others spread joy. One of life’s everlasting wonders is a fresh start. May you have a joyful Pongal.