Pongal is also referred to as THAI PONGAL is a multi-day harvest festival practised by the Tamil community. It is observed at the beginning of the TAI MONTH according to the Tamil solar calendar and this is usually the 14th of January. It is devoted to the sun god, the Surya, and refers to MAKAR SANKRANTI, the harvest festival under several regional names celebrated in INDIA.
It is historically an opportunity to decorate Kolam artwork focused on rice powder, give home prayers, temples, get together with family and friends, and exchange gifts to renew social ties of solidarity.
Pongal is one of the most popular festivals celebrated by Tamil and Telugu in Tamil Nadu and Puducherry in INDIA. It is also a major festival of Tamil and Telugu in Sri Lanka. The Tamil diaspora is observed worldwide, including those in Malaysia, Mauritius, South Africa, Singapore, United States, United Kingdom, and Canada.
DAYS OF THE PONGAL
The festival is held
For three or four days in Tamil Nadu, but for one or two days in Urban areas, especially in the Tamil diaspora community outside South Asia.
The Pongal festival starts on the day called bhogi Pongal, which marks the last day of the Tamil month of margazhi. On this day, people throw out old things and celebrate new possessions. People are gathering and lighting a bonfire to burn the heaps of discards.
Houses are swept, coloured and furnished with a festive look. Oxen and buffalo horns are decorated in settlements. Fresh clothes are worn to mark the beginning of the festival. The god of the day is Indra, the god of nature, to whom prayers are given, with thanks and expectations for the abundant rains of the year ahead.
Bhogi is also celebrated in Andhra Pradesh on the same day. At the ceremony called bhogi pallu, the fruit of the harvest.
Surya Pongal is also known as Suryan Pongal or perum Pongal is the second and largest festival day devoted to the Hindu god Surya. It is the first day of the Tamil calendar month of tai and coincides with Makara Sankranthi, the winter harvest festival celebrated in India.
The days mark the beginning of the uttarayana when the sun reaches the 10th house of the Makara zodiac the day is celebrated with family and friends, with Pongal dishes cooked in a typical pot of earth in an open space with a view of the sun.
The pot is normally adorned with a turmeric plant or a flower garland, and two or three tall fresh cane stalks are arranged by the cooking stove.
Pongal dishes are typically prepared by boiling milk in a group setting. When the bubble begins, freshly harvested rice grains and cane sugar jaggery are added to the pot.
When the dish starts to bubble and overflows out of the vessel, one or more participants blow a conch called the Canggu, while others yell ‘’Pongal O Pongal’’.
The first Pongal dish is given to Surya and Ganesha and then shared with his friends and family. Tamilians decorate their homes with banana and mango leave s and embellish the entrance space in front of homes.
The day after Pongal, Mattu Pongal is celebrated. Mattu applies to HOG bullock, cattle, and Tamil Hindus consider cattle as a source of resources for the supply of dairy goods, fertilisers, transport and agricultural assistance.
On Mattu Pongal, cattle are adorned often with flower garlands or painted horns, they are given bananas, a special meal and worshipped. Some decorate their cows with manjal(turmeric) thanni and oil.
Shikakai adds Kung Alam to their foreheads, paint their horns, and feed them with a mixture of Pongal, sugar, banana and other berries. Others bathe their cattle and prostrate themselves before them with the words of gratitude for helping them.
Kanum Pongal also called Kanu Pongal the fourth day of the festival, marks the culmination of the year’s festivities in Pongal. In this sense, the term kanum means ‘’to visit’’. Many families hold meetings on this day.
Communities arrange social activities to reinforce shared bonds. Village farmers cut and eat fresh sugar cane during social activities to reinforce shared bonds.
Families, friends and neighbours come to welcome, while young people go out to meet seniors relatives and communities to pay respects and to seek blessings, while some elders send visiting children some pocket change as a gift.