Pongal is here and it is time to celebrate! Welcome the harvest festival at your home with delicious dishes and know what the festival is all about.
An Indian version of Thanksgiving, Pongal is a harvest festival that is celebrated all over Tamil Nadu. It’s a celebration for four days, each day carrying its own significance. The first day of the Tamil month “Thai” is celebrated as Pongal. According to English calendar it generally falls on the 14th or 15th of January every year.
People celebrate the year’s harvest and offer a special thanksgiving to God, the sun, the earth and the cattle. Pongal comes from the Tamil word “Ponga” which means, “to boil” and also it is a name of a dish that is prepared with the newly harvested rice on the festive day.
Lets take a look in detail on how the festival is celebrated
Text: Sneha M
Bhogi, the first day is dedicated to Lord Indra who is considered as the supreme ruler of clouds that give rains. Homage is paid to Lord Indra for bringing plenty and prosperity to the land.
On this day, Bhogi is observed that is people clean their houses and gather all the waste and lit it up. The fire is made with wood and cow-dung. It signifies cleaning out all the waste and keeping warm during winter.
The actual festive day is on the second day of the four-day long celebration. The puja and making of Pongal takes place on this day.
Rice and milk is boiled in an earthenware pot and Pongal is made. Once cooked it is made to spill a little symbolising an offering to the sun god. The pot is painted and surrounded with turmeric plant. Sugarcane sticks are offered along with the traditional types of Pongal.
New clothes are worn, houses are decorated and not to forget kolam, the traditional design that is traced with white lime powder outside the house.
We give you a wide variety of pongal recipes. From the usual breakfast pongal to the sweet sakkarai pongal, find them all here.
You can see beautifully decorated cows, bulls or cattle on the streets on the third day of this harvest festival. They are cleaned, decorated with beads, bells and garlands, and worshiped on this day. These rituals are performed to thank the cows, buffaloes and ox, as they work hard to help the farmers to raise crops on their fields.
The interesting history behind them working on fields goes on like this, Lord Shiva once asked Nandi, his bull, to spread his message on earth that people should have an oil massage every day and eat once a month. The confused Nandi announced that everyone should have an oil bath once a month and eat daily. After knowing this, Shiva fumed with anger and cursed Nandi to live on the earth and plough the fields and help people produce more food.
"Kaanum" means "to meet", thus on the fourth and final day of the festival people visit their friends and relatives. They go on picnics and enjoy the day with their family.
The ritual followed on this day is between the brothers and sisters, it’s the south Indian version of Raksha Bandhan and Bhai Dhuj. Sisters offer food to her ancestors praying for her brother’s health and prosperity. In return the brothers invite their sisters for a meal of different varieties of rice and gift them presents.
An amalgamation of various traditions, Pongal is the most widely celebrated festival in south India. We wish you Happy Pongal!