Pongal Festival - the Harvest Festival of Tamil Nadu (2019) - Festivals of India
Pongal Dates For 2019
The dates for the four days of Pongal celebration are from 15 to 18 January 2019
About Pongal Festival
Pongal is the traditional Hindu harvest festival of South India, especially the Tamil people of Tamil Nadu state of India. It is one of the most popular and important of the South Indian festivals.
Celebrated as a four day long thanksgiving festival its origin dates over 1000 years back. This day is also celebrated by various names as Makar Sankranti, Bihu, Hadaya, Poki among others.
The celebrations are two fold:
For one, it celebrates and gives thanks for the bountiful harvest and second, it celebrates the change of season and marking the end of monsoon season for the year.
Pongal means "to boil" in Tamil and it represents the overflowing harvest. Pongal is also marked as the wedding month as the abundance of food makes it easier to go in for a large wedding.
Pongal is not a government holiday across the nation but a religious holiday in South & Central India. School & colleges remain closed on all 4 days as well as agricultural businesses.
Legend (History) Of Pongal Festival
Though several legends are associated with the Pongal festival, the most popular is one of Lord Krishna lifting the Govardhan mountain on his little finger to protect the cattle and people from the Rain God, Lord Indra's wrath. It was on the first day called Bhogi Pongal that Lord Krishna lifeted the mountain.
As the legend goes, on the third day, that is; Mattu Pongal day, Lord Shiva sent his uffalow Nandi to tell the people to have oil massage and bath daily but eat once a day. Nandi became confused and mistakenly related the order the other way around.
This angered Lord Shiva who then made Nandi stay back on earth to help people with growing more food and this then became a harvest festival.
Preparation For Celebrating Pongal
Called Marghazi Kolam, this traditiona is followed in many villages.
The preparations start several days to almost a month before the actual festivities arrive as these are very elaborate and this is the most waited of all festivals.
Homes are whitewashed and decorated, new clothes bought, old household items collected for disposal and new ones bought in their place as also gifts for family and friends.
Cattle sheds are likewise cleaned and cattle bathed.
The Four Days Of Pongal Festival Celebrations
As mentioned earlier, the Pongal festival celebrations are spread over four days. The days are are:
- Bhogi (Bogi) Pongal - 14 January 2016
- Surya (Thai) Pongal - 15 January 2016
- Mattu Pongal - 16 January 2016
- Kannum (Katya) Pongal - 17 January 2016
The Four Days Of Pongal Festival Celebrations
Day 1 - Bhogi Pongal:
This day, a day before the main Pongal day is celebrated to honour the Rain God, Lord Indra for the plentiful rains that provided the bumper harvest.. It also celebrates the end of winter.
People discard old and worn out things and buy new, burn these in the bonfire at dawn, lighted with wood and cow dung. The houses are cleaned and painted afresh, decorated traditionally with even oxen and buffaloes getting their horns painted.
Rice, sugarcane & turmeric are kept ready for use for the day two rituals.
Day 2 - Surya or Thai Pongal:
This day is celebrated by worshipping the Sun God, Lord Surya. Rice is boiled in milk and jaggery, in an earthen vessel, and the pot of rice is allowed to overflow, signifying abundance.
This concoction is called Pongal. Turmeric is tied to the pot of rice before offering it to the deity. Some more offerings like sugarcane, coconut and bananas are also given. Later on this is served to the gathering of people at home.
Pongal is cooked at sunrise. Kolam designs with rice flour and clay are drawn on the floor or wooden planks. People wear new clothes and greet one another 'Happy Pongal'.
Incidentally this day coincides with Makar Sankranti festival.
Day 3 - Mattu Pongal:
On this day people decorate and worship their cattle. the painted cattle horns are decorated with bells, beads, flowers etc. They are fed the Pongal offered to the Gods. Bull races and fights (Jallikattu) are also held.
The cattle are providers of dairy, fertilizer, labour and transportation for the farmer and his fields. They are also taken to tour the entire village.
This day is also called Kanu Pongal.
Day 4 - Kannum (Katya) Pongal
The fourth and last day of Pongal festival is also know as Karinaal in some areas of Tamil Nadu.
On this day people place a turmeric leaf on the ground after washing. The remains of the sweet Pongal are placed on this as well as pieces of sugarcane, betel nuts & leaves and bananas.
Feeding cows is consider auspicious and colored rice balls are fed to them. Women perform aarti (worship) for the well being of the brothers.
It is the time for family get togethers and reunions. Pongal songs are sung and folk dances performed.
The most commonly associated symbols with Pongal are related to agriculture and the Sun viz
- The Sun
- The Chariot
Pongal RecipesClick thumbnail to view full-size
Some of the dishes made during Pongal are:
- Sakkarai (Pongal) made with rice, arhar dal, jaggery, milk almonds and cashews or raisins
- Avial made with vegetables, chana and urad dal
- Coconut Rice made with coconut, chana and urad dal
- Puli Pongal made with rice, green gram, tamarind, peanuts and black gram
- Salt Pongal made with rice, moong dal and cashewnuts
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Sakkarai Pongal Recipe
© 2016 Rajan Singh Jolly