Villages and rural towns in Tamil Nadu are festooned with colourful flowers, garlands and buntings. There is an air of celebration and bonhomie everywhere. There is folk music playing from the loudspeakers, flashy and ostentatious decorations all over the town and groups of boisterous youngsters roaming around & enjoying the fun. Village fairs are organised . Farmers are dressing up their cows and getting ready for thefestival. It is certainly the time of the year when villagers celebrate and enjoy communal harmony. The landowners and the peasants come together in the village to celebrate this festival . Further, families come together during this time to celebrate the the Thanksgiving festival. It is a social occasion.
When is Thai Pongal Celebrated
We invite you to join the harvest festival that is celebrated throughout Tamil Nadu. It is popularly known as the Pongal or Thai Pongal. It is one of the most important festivals in Tamil Nadu. Thai refers to the Tamil month, Thai masam (mid January to mid February) when Pongal is celebrated. Is is hence referred as Thai Pongal. January 13th to 16th 2019 are the days when it is celebrated in Tamil Nadu.
Agriculture is dependant on the vagaries of nature. Pongal is celebrated as a thanksgiving to the sun god and the rain god for their bountiful blessings. Cows and bulls are also worshipped as a part of the Pongal celebrations. These animals are central to farming.
It is the harvest season when rice, sugarcane & turmeric is harvested. This festival is celebrated in rural areas more than in the urban areas. The reason is evident, as the rural areas are where agriculture is mainstream.
The First Day- Bhogi Celebrations
This first day is celebrated as Bhogi festival in honor of Lord Indra the rain god.
Homes are cleaned and all the rubbish is thrown to burn. A bonfire is prepared and the unwanted items form the field and the homes are thrown into it. This symbolizes the new beginning.
A special sweet with flour and jaggery is prepared on Bhogi in all homes. This is called Poli.
The Second Day-Pongal Puja
The Pongal puja is performed on the 2nd day.
The house is cleaned and decorated with fresh rangoli. Rangoli ,also known as kolam, is done with white rice powder and colours on the ground.
People are attired in new clothe. Sugarcane, coconut and bananas are offered to the god.
Rice, lentils and milk are boiled on a stove in a special pot in the courtyard. A tumeric plant is tied around the pot. The whole family gathers around the pot and cries “Pongalo Pongal” when the water boils over the pot.
This symbolically refers to “ Let the food be bountiful and let our lives overflow with joy and happiness.”
Pongal is also the name of the dish made of rice and lentils. A sweet pongal is also made by adding a bit of jaggery & milk to it.
These 2 varieties of Pongal are made on the 2nd day in all the homes.
The Third Day- Mattu Pongal
This is the auspicious day when the cows are celebrated. Garlands, colourful bells and silk fabrics are tied on the cattle and they are worshipped with special puja.
Each farmer brings his decorated cows to the village centre. The cows are paraded on the roads. The cattle race is part of the show.
Jalli Kattu ( taming of the bull) is a big sport that is practiced in some areas. There is a money tied to the horn of the bulls and they are let loose by the owners. Young men chase the bull to retrieve the money.
There is no physical harm done to the animal in this sport although there is a persisting controversy about playing this sport.
Fourth day-Kanu Pongal
Kanu Pongal or Kanum Pongal is celebrated on the forth day.
The turmeric leaf is washed and placed on the ground. Left over pongal, sweet pongal, turmeric rice and curd rice are all placed on the leaf. Sugarcane and banana are also placed on the leaf. All the women gather around and call out to the birds to come and eat the food. They pray for the well being of their brothers and their families. The saying goes that as birds flock together, families should remain close together always.
Girls of the families are given special gifts on this day. It is an occasion when married women visit their maternal homes to meet with their brothers and parents and seek their blessings.
The Pongal festival is celebrated with music and dance performances all around the State. Shops offer special discounts on Pongal purchases. Therefore, make the most of this and enjoy shopping in Chennai.