Pongal 2018: History, Significance and Celebrations
The harvest festival of Tamil Nadu, Pongal is celebrated with much fun and vibrancy every year since 14 January. It is a four-day festival, the initiation of which overlaps with Makar Sankranti in north India. Lohri in Punjab precedes Pongal in Tamil Nadu.
Why is Pongal Celebrated?
Pongal is celebrated to express gratitude to the Sun God for a good harvest. The agrarian economy of Tamil Nadu (a rice-growing state) is heavily dependent on a good harvest and hence, the celebration of Pongal.
Pongal also marks the first harvest festival of the year and is also known as Thai Pongal. The month of harvest is known as Thai in Tamil hence the name Thai Pongal.
How is Pongal Celebrated?
Pongal is a four-day auspicious harvest festival. The first day is reserved for special prayers to the rain God. This is also called the Bhogi festival. Some people follow it with a bonfire in the evening, dedicated to Lord Krishna. People dance and sing around the bonfire, singing praises of God.
The Sun God is worshipped on the second day of Pongal. It is also known as Surya Pongal. People boil rice in milk in an earthen pot and offer it to the idol of the Sun God. Women wear traditional white clothes and prepare kolam (rangoli). Some people also tie a turmeric plant to the boiled bowl of rice.
Cow worship is done on the third day, also known as Mattu Pongal. People tie bells around their cattle and seek their blessings. Cattle races are a common sight during Mattu Pongal and the occasion witnesses huge crowds.
The last day of Pongal or Kannum Pongal is marked by women praying for the prosperity and well-being of their home and their spouse. Women perform auspicious rituals and pray to the Almighty by placing rice on a turmeric leaf and performing aarti.
On Pongal, Tamilians also prepare a special rice dish with lentils which is sweet in taste.