Pongal is a harvest festival - the Tamil equivalent of Thanksgiving. In an agriculture based civilization the harvest plays an important part. The farmer cultivating his land depends on cattle, timely rain and the Sun. Once a year, he expresses his gratitude to these during the harvest festival. With the end of the wet month of Margazhi (mid- December to mid-January) the new Tamil month of Thai heralds a series of festivals. The first day of this month is a festival day known as "Pongal Day".
According to the calendar based on the solar system the year is divided into two halves following the apparent movement of the Sun northwards and Southwards. The farmer is termed Uttarayanam and the latter is Dakshinayanam. On the first day of the Thai, the Sun leaves the zodiac sign of Sagittarius and enters that of Capricorn, the latter is known as Makaram. The event thus is celebrated as Pongal.
Pongal is a four-day affair. The first day, Bhogi. That day when people discard old things and focus on new belongings (பைழயன கழிதலும் புதியன புகுதலும்). The disposal of derelict things is similar to Holika in North India. The people assemble at dawn in Tamil Nadu and Andhra to light a bonfire to discard old used possessions. Indra Vizha was celebrated in honor of Lord Indra, also called Bhogi, the God of thunder and rain. Apart from regular Thaligai, we prepare Paruppu Boli , Venpongal - and Sweet Pongal with vadai - thirukkannanamuthu. After thiruvaradhanam all family members eat together.
The second day is Perum Pongal, the most important. It is also called Surya Pongal because people worship Surya. A sage named Hema prayed to Lord Vishnu on the banks of the Pottramarai tank in Kumbakonam. On Perum Pongal day, the lord is believed to have taken the form of Sarangapani and blessed the sage.
The third day is Mattu Pongal, celebrated to glorify cattle that help farmers in a myriad ways. On this day, the cows are bathed and decorated with vermilion and garlands and fed. In certain villages in southern Tamil Nadu especially in Alanganallur (Madurai district) a bullfight called manji-virattu is held in the evening.
Mattu Pongal has little significance to city folks. In most urban homes, the day is celebrated as Kannu Pongal. Special prayers are offered by women for the well-being of their brothers.
Pongal festivals are not only famous for Pongal and also very famous for Kolams. The Kolam is much more than just an aesthetic art. "Kolam" refers to ornamental artwork drawn on the floor in front of deities in puja rooms or in front of houses in Tamil Nadu. In Tamil language, the word kolam means beauty; The Kolam and the bright red border or kaavi enclosing it are also believed to prevent evil and undesirable elements from entering the houses.
Let’s celebrate the Pongal, welfare to spread and delight to sunshine in our lives.
Pongal Recipes are