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As all we know, India is a country with different cultures and celebrations. You might have noticed that even though diverse, when one state celebrates a festival, most probably, there might be festivities going on in other states too. Pongal or Thaipongal is a festival celebrated by the Hindus of Tamil Nadu state. Basically, it is a harvest festival which lasts for four days. The Pongal festival comes in the month of January. It is the most celebrated festival in Tamil Nadu.  Wherever the Tamil population is there in the world, they celebrate these auspicious days. It is actually a four-day festival, during which people pray to the nature thanking it for the good harvest.

Pongal photoPhoto by Vinay Shivakumar

Tamil Nadu is a place where people accept nature as their god. The Sun god has all the importance during this festival. In Tamil, Pongal means ‘to boil’. During this season, they harvest turmeric, rice, sugar cane and other cereals. Pongal or Thaipongal has a history of more than 1000 years. Thai is the 10th month in Tamil calendar. Pongal is also a famous dish in Tamil Nadu. In Tamil Nadu, they cook Pongal for all the festivals that they celebrate in the temple.


First day of Pongal

Bhogi photoPhoto by Hyderabadi Ladka

This is known as Bhogi festival and they worship or pray to the Lord Indra. Lord Indra is the god of clouds. Lord Indra helps them with good rain and because of that they get a good harvest. Another ceremony is that they throw away all the unnecessary items from the house and put on fire. The fire will be made of cow dung or with woods. Girls will dance and sing around the fire. This is actually meant to clean the wastage coming after the harvest. This is known as Bhogi Mantalu.

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Second day of Pongal

Bhogi photoPhoto by acme

This is a day when the Pongal ceremony is done. Ladies will put Kolam (an auspicious design like Rangoli) in front of the house early in the morning after taking bath. Outside the house, the family sets up a temporary stove with wood and fire. In a mud pot when the milk boils, they will put rice into it and when it boils, they shout Pongalo Pongal. This is the main ritual of Pongal. This Pongal is an offering to the rain god. The pot is fixed with turmeric stick, banana leaves, coconut, and sugar cane as offerings to the god.


Third day of Pongal

Bhogi photoPhoto by VinothChandar

Mattu Pongal is very interesting and the most celebrated by everyone in Tamil Nadu. This day celebrates Cow. After the harvest, you are supposed to give respect and worship the cows that helped to plow the ground. These cows will be decorated with new bells, beads and different color flowers. Cows will be taken to the public ground of the village and they have raced with the cows. This is the best day for bulls and cows because they get all the respect and ceremonial treat from the farmers.

Once, Lord Shiva asked his Bull Basava to go to earth to ask the humans to have oil massage and bath every day but to have food once in a month. But Basava fumbles it and tells them to have food every day and oil massage and bath once in a month. Shiva got angry asked Basava to go and live in the earth by serving the human beings to grow the crop so that they can have food every day. From that day onwards all these bulls and cows are working for humans.

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Fourth day of Pongal

This day is also known as Kannum Pongal day. Turmeric leaf is cleaned with water and kept in the center of the house. In that leaf, they will put all the balance items available in the house like Venpongal, Sweet Pongal, turmeric leaves, sugar cane pieces and rice in the middle of the leaf. Women in the house, young and old, will join this ritual. They will pray to the god for the family to stay together and to get all the success and facilities. They do the Arthi of brothers with auspicious turmeric water, rice and lime stones. Later they shower water over the Kolam.


Featured Photo by Kamala L

Pongal – The Tamil Harvest Festival

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