Pongal Celebrations in India

Pongal Celebrations in India: Pongal is a very popular and important Hindu festival that is celebrated in Tamil Nadu. It is basically a Tamil harvest festival. The Pongal festival is a four-day festival that is celebrated generally from January 13 to January 16 and only sometimes from January 14 to January 17. This is in correspondence with the last day of the Tamil month Maargazhi to the third day of the Tamil month Thai and hence, is also called as the Thai Pongal.

The festival of Pongal is a thanksgiving day to nature for all the harvest. Pongal derived its name from the Tamil word meaning ‘to boil’. The festival is celebrated in the month when the crops like rice and other cereals, sugar-cane and turmeric are harvested. The festival is celebrated by all the Tamils living in Tamil Nadu, the Indian Union Territory of Puducherry, Sri Lanka, Malaysia, South Africa, Canada, Mauritius, Singapore, USA and UK.

Pongal is celebrated in correspondence to the Makara Sankranthi that is celebrated all over India. The festival also marks the six-month journey of sun towards the North Pole. The part of the celebrations includes offering first boiled rice of the harvest season to Sun.

The First Day of Pongal

The first day of Pongal is celebrated as Bhogi festival dedicated to Lord Indra. Homage is offered to the Lord for his blessings in the form of abundance of harvest. Bhogi Mantalu is also a ritual of the first day when old and useless household articles made up of wood and cow-dung cakes are thrown into the bonfire and singing and dancing takes place around the bonfire.

The Second Day of Pongal

The act of worship is performed on the second day of Pongal. Rice is boiled in milk outdoors in a earthenware pot and then offered to the sun God. As a part of the ritual, a turmeric plant is tied around the pot in which the rice will be boiled. The offering dish includes coconut and bananas in the dish and two sticks of sugar-cane in background.

The Third Day of Pongal

Mattu Pongal is the name that is given to the third day of Pongal. This day of Pongal is dedicated to the cows. Cows and other cattle are worshipped on this day and auspicious things like tinkling bells, flower garlands, sheaves of corn and other multi-colored beads are tied around the cattle’s neck and then, ‘arti’ is performed on them.

The Fourth Day of Pongal

The final or the fourth day of Pongal is called as the Knau or Kannum Pongal day. On this day, the left over sweet Pongal and Venn Pongal, ordinary rice as well as rice colored red and yellow, betel nuts, betel leaves, turmeric leaves, two pieces of sugarcane, and plantains are placed on a washed turmeric leaf. Women perform artis and other rituals for the brothers with turmeric water, limestone and rice, and then this water is sprinkled in front of the house.

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