Pongal is one of the most important popular Hindu festivals of the year. A four-day-long harvest festival celebrated in the south-Indian state of Tamil Nadu, Pongal is a harvest festival, a traditional occasion held in the month of Thai (January-February), the harvest season when some major crops are harvested. It is also a kind of thanksgiving festival to give thanks to nature and celebrate the life cycles that give us grain. Read on to enhance your knowledge about this splendid festival. If you like our article, click here to send it to your friends and let them share the fun.
India is a land of festivals. A majority of the population here depends on agriculture. As a result, most of the festivals are also related to the agricultural activities of the people. These festivals are celebrated with different names and rituals in almost all the states of India. Pongal is one of such highly revered festivals celebrated in Tamil Nadu to mark the harvesting of crops by farmers. Held in the middle of january, it is the time when the people get ready to thank God, earth and their cattle for the wonderful harvest and celebrate the occasion with joyous festivities and rituals.
Pongal continues through the first four days of Thai month that starts in the mid-January and spreads to mid-February. The houses are cleaned, painted and decorated. Kolams (ground patterns made out of rice flour) are made in the front yards of the houses and new clothes for the whole family are bought to mark the festivities. Even the cattle are gaily caparisoned with beads, bells and flowers-their horns painted and capped with gleaming metals. Pongal has been designated the "State Festival" for its unique celebration that is typical of TamilNadu. It is a festival that encompasses all of TamilNadu in its joyous embrace. It is a time when the poor, the rich, the villager all celebrate the harvest festival together.
Preparations to observe the festival of pongal starts early in the moring and the first thing that is always found in Hindu households is the 'kolam' or the rangoli- a form of decoration for the Hindus' homes made from rice flour and usually drawn on the floor.Rangolis serve as a symbol of welcoming guests to the entrance of the house apart from beautifying it. At the center of the Kolam is a lump of cow-dung (many Indians worship cows.),which holds a five-petalled pumpkin flower-a symbol of fertility and an offering of love to the presiding deity.
The first day of pongal is celebrated as the Bhogi Pongal and is usually meant for domestic activities and family get-togethers.Celebrated in honour of Lord Indra, the supreme ruler of clouds that give rains. Another ritual observed on this day is Bhogi Mantalu, when useless household articles are thrown into a fire made of wood and cow-dung cakes. Girls dance around the bonfire, singing songs in laudation of the gods.
The second day of harvest festival is known as 'Pongal', in Tamil Nadu. Considered to be the most important day of the entire festival, where prayers are offered to the Sun-god early in the morning.Family members gather outside their house and cook 'pongal' in clay pots. When the rice inside the pot overflows, the people will cry out 'Pongal O Pongal' as the overflow of rice symbolizes a prosperous farming season for them. On this auspicious day, people will visit each other and dine together. Eating sweets and extending a warm reception to the guests with the same form part of any Hindu festivals.
This day is the day of Pongal for cows. For the villagers. cow, the giver of milk and the bull which draws the plough in the fields are very valuable and therefore the farmers honour them by celebrating this day as a day of thanks-giving. The cattle are washed and their horns are painted with myriad hues.
Kanu Pongal, which falls on the same day as Maatu Pongal, is celebrated by sisters for the welfare of their brothers. Pongal or Harvest festival of Tamil Nadu is similar to Raksha Bandhan and Bhai Dooj of North India.