Happy Pongal 2020: Pongal is an occasion offering prayers in the home, temples, getting together with family and friends, and exchanging gifts to renew social bonds of solidarity.
Pongal is a four-day-long harvest festival, largely celebrated in Tamil Nadu, a southern state of India. It falls in mid-January every year and marks the auspicious beginning of Uttarayan – sun’s journey northwards.
It is the festival of ”thanksgiving” to nature. It takes its name from the Tamil word meaning “to boil” and is held in the month of Thai (January-February) during the season when rice and other cereals, sugar-cane, and turmeric (an essential ingredient in Tamil cooking) are harvested.
People celebrate it in a number of ways. Kolam or rangoli is made in front of houses.
Since it is a four-day festival, there are various other fun activities including community pongal-cooking competitions.
The first day of the festival is celebrated as Bhogi festival in honour of Lord Indra or the rain god, as per Hindu scriptures. People pay homage to Lord Indra for the abundance of harvest and prosperity for the land.
In Bhogi Pongal, useless household articles are thrown into a fire made of wood and cow-dung cakes. Girls dance around the bonfire, singing songs in praise of the gods, the spring and the harvest. The significance of the bonfire is to keep warm during ‘the last lap of winter’.
The second day of Pongal is called Surya Pongal and is dedicated to the Sun God.
Third day of Pongal is called Mattu Pongal, the day of Pongal for cows. In this, multi-coloured beads, tinkling bells, sheaves of corn and flower garlands are tied around the neck of the cattle and they are worshiped. They are fed with Pongal and taken to the village centers.
On the fourth day or Kannum Pongal, people wash and place a turmeric leaf on the ground. On this leaf, the leftovers of sweet Pongal and Venn Pongal, ordinary rice as well as betel leaves, betel nuts, two pieces of sugarcane, turmeric leaves, and plantains are used.
Pongal is celebrated with much fanfare.
This year, Pongal begins on January 14.
The festival marks the end of farming period and represents the veneration of the first fruits of the harvest season. All four days are celebrated with immense passion by the natives of Tamil Nadu, although in some places, only the second day is considered important.
Best wishes of Pongal to you and your family. Do not forget to share these greetings with them to double your joy.