Pongal is a harvest festival and a thanksgiving ceremony which is celebrated for four days in the southern states of India. The farmers celebrate the event to offer thanks to nature, gods, worship the sun, the earth, and the cattle for helping them in their successful harvest. Apart from farmers, other people also celebrate pongal to offer their thanks to the farmers and nature for the food production. This day is named and celebrated as “Tamizhar Thirunal” throughout Tamil Nadu.
Pongal is the most celebrated festival by the Tamil people . Pongal is celebrated in the Tamil month Thai madham first day for new beginnings and hence it is called “Thai Pongal”. It is celebrated during the season when the crops like sugarcane, rice, turmeric, etc. are being harvested . Tamilians have a strong belief that the month Thai will bring new opportunities and prosperity to solve their problems as per the sayings “Thai Pirandhal Vazhi Pirakkum” to them. Pongal festival starts on January 14 and continues till January 17. This festival is also celebrated in a few other parts of India as Makar Sankranti, the harvest festival.
A day before Thai Pongal, people celebrate Bogi Pandigai. Bhogi is the first day of the four days Pongal Festival and is celebrated to honor Lord Indra, “the God of Clouds and Rains” for the successful harvest. Bogi is the day people discard the unused old things and welcome the prosperous new beginning Thai Pongal.
Thai Pongal/Surya Pongal
The Surya Pongal/Thai Pongal is considered to be the most important festival on the second day of the pongal festival. The celebration started with the colorful rangoli/kolam being drawn in the early morning. The ritual of cooking rice and milk is done in the open in the courtyards and lawns of home on auspicious hours. The cooking area is decorated with the sugarcane, Plantain stem, flowers, garlands and beautiful kolam. The traditional dish Pongal is made in an earthen pot which is beautifully painted and tied with a turmeric plant which is considered to be auspicious in Hindu rituals. The first rice that is harvested is used to make pongal, the boiling over the pot is the auspicious sign that the people wait for and celebrate with the chants “Pongalo, Pongal”. Prepared pongal is offered to the god Surya Bhavan to show their gratitude for the good harvest. Pongal is prepared with rice, jaggery, dal and ghee. People used to prepare sakkarai Pongal, a sweet delicacy and ven-pongal which is accompanied with pongal kootu sambar, a combination of mixed vegetables and lentils.
Mattu Pongal is the 3rd day of the Pongal celebration which is dedicated to worshiping cattle, especially bulls as they play an important part in harvesting. On Mattu Pongal, people give a ceremonial bath to their cattle, their horns are cleaned, painted and decorated with flowers. Tinkling bells, Garlands and multi-colored beads are tied in their necks. The cattle were sprinkled by holy water, a mixture of turmeric and saffron water and offered prayers to protect them from all evils. Sakkarai Pongal is prepared and offered to lord Shiva, Goddess Parvathi and Lord Ganesha and then the pongal is offered to the cattle as prasad.‘Manji Virattu’ or ‘Jallikattu’ , which is an important traditional sport, is an integral part of Mattu Pongal celebrations in Tamilnadu.
This is the last day of the Pongal festival. On this day, women offer prayers for the well being of their siblings and the family prosperity. As a part of rituals, rice is offered to the birds. This is followed by aarti considered very holy and is sprinkled everywhere in the premises of the house. Kaanum Pongal is considered to be a very auspicious day for new beginnings. The word Kaanum means' to visit' So on this day friends and family often visit each other and spend their evenings on the beach or in some picnic spots.
Celebrating Pongal in the UK:
Adhering to rituals and honoring the tradition, Pongal is celebrated in the UK with the same sentiments has become very easy now. Lakshmi Stores, UK the best Indian Online Grocery Stores in UK supplies all the Pongal items including Pongal Pooja Items online to celebrate the Pongal Festival with the same heritage, culture and the tradition. Lakshmi Stores wishes you all a very “Happy Pongal”.