Pongal festival is celebrated in southern India, mostly by the Tamils. It is a four days festival. This year, it will be celebrated from January 14 to January 17.
India is an agriculture-based country and this festival marks the end of the winter season and the winter infertile. This festival is celebrated to welcome the first harvest of the year because this festival marks the start of the New Year according to Indian culture.
Traditions and customs of Pongal
Pongal festival marks the beginning of the Uttarayan or from this date when the sun begins its journey towards the northward. This means now the days start to be longer than the nights.
To celebrate the festival and the auspicious period, people clean their houses and surroundings. During the first day of the Pongal festival, the whole family wakes up early in the morning and takes bath early, and all dress up in their traditional attire to celebrate the four days of the festival.
The women wear sarees or pavada, while men wear the angavastram. Also, people make Kolam. Kolam is an important aspect of the festival. The kolam is made with the paste of rice flour and water or milk or coconut water. This white paste is considered precious and religious and people use this white paste to draw beautiful patterns and designs on the threshold of the houses or in the puja area. This kolam is similar to rangoli but different colors are not added in the past or in the patterns. Also, sugarcane and sweets are other customs during the Pongal festival.
Pongal is a four days festival. All four days have their characteristics.
The first day of the festival is called Bhogi Pongal when people worship the lord sun and Mother Earth. The first paddy is cooked with milk to make a sweet dish for the occasion. Also on this first of the festival people clean their houses and collect the trash from cleaning and it will be thrown into the bonfire because it is believed that burning the trash in the bonfire will help in breaking the old and helps in making a fresh start. On this day Lord Indra, the god of rain and clouds, and the farming equipment are worshipped. This is done to seek the blessing for a future harvest. And worshipped lord Indra shows how harvest depends on nature and its resources.
The second day of this festival is called the Perum Pongal or Surya Pongal. This is the most important day of the four days of the festival when the Lord’s sun is worshipped along with its chaya and samganya. It is the custom and tradition to light a fire and throw all old and torn clothes into it. On this day people also take an oil bath or massage before bath and then wear new clothes after the bath.
Mattu Pongal is the third day of the festival and this day is dedicated to the farmers’ animals like cows, bulls, oxen. On this day animals are bathed, massaged and their horns were decorated. Also, people dressed their animals in vibrant attires. Some colorful garlands made of flowers and bells will be tied around their neck. This ritual is performed to protect animals from any evil eye. During the third day, Sakkara is prepared which is given to cows and then to other animals. This Mattu Pongal is celebrated to express our gratitude towards our animals and their contribution towards mankind.
Also, Jallikattu is a traditional event that took place on the third day of the festival. In this event, the bull is released into a crowd, and People will try to grab the bull’s hump and hang on to it to stop it from running away.
Thiruvalluvar or Kaanum Pongal
The last day of the Pongal is called Thiruvalluvar or Kaanum Pongal. On this day People visit their relatives and friends, order gifts online for them. Women perform puja and pray for the well-being and prosperity of their brothers. In Tamil, the word ‘Kaanum’ means ‘to see’. Kaanum Pongal is the day when people dress up in their best attire and meet their relatives and friends, and they exchange gifts with each other. Kaanum Pongal is a day when you can take some time for your relatives and friends and recharge your relationships as well as your spirit.
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