The harvest festival Thai Pongal of Tamilnadu
Tamil Nadu, the South Indian state of India wakes up hearing the phrase ‘Pongalo Pongal’ everywhere on the day of this festival. ‘Thai’ is the harvest month (spring) of Tamil people and the first day of this month is celebrated with great zest and fervor in the name ‘Pongal’. Thai Pongal denotes the transition of sun into the next zodiac sign Capricorn (Makara). The festivalis celebrated in the name ‘Makar Sankranti’ in North India.
The solar date of Thai Pongal is always the same every year that is January 14th. Pongal means ‘overflow’ that means richness or abundance. Tamil people boil milk in a traditional way outdoors when sun rises early in the morning. Then it is kept for overflow forming bubbles when everyone echoes ‘Pongalo Pongal’ in the air. The festival is dedicated to Sun God for his blessings.
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The solar date of Thai Pongal is always the same every year that is January 14th. Pongal means ‘overflow’ that means richness or abundance. Tamil people boil milk in a traditional way outdoors when sun rises early in the morning.
There are several customs followed for celebrating this auspicious day. Thai Pongal is celebrated to please 'Surya'(Sun) God as he is regarded as the primary source of energy for harvest in agriculture. Tamil people decorate their homes with banana and mango leaves. Preparing sweet Pongal dish is the important part of the celebrations.
Pongal is prepared in the courtyard in earthen pots during sunrise. This sweet dish is made by cooking rice in milk and jaggery. Then exchange of sweets and greetings takes place with others living in the neighborhood.
Putting ‘Kolam’ in the courtyard is an important custom of the female folks on the Pongal Eve. Using rice flour, several decorative designs are drawn to fill the courtyard as part of the celebrations.
Sweet memories of Pongal in my native place
The harvest festival Pongal cheers me with some sweet memories of my native place. My mother used to put lovely designs called ‘Kolam’ to fill the courtyard on Pongal Eve. We all would gather there having a chitchat comprising of jokes, local news and some songs. Till night 1 o’ clock she continues the designing process with her artistic fingers moving swiftly to end up with a visually appealing design.
She wakes up very early in the morning to boil milk and make Pongal sweet. The taste of that sweet Pongal dish still lingers my mouth. Then she wakes up her daughters for getting ready to go to temple.
People celebrate Pongal in the name of Makar Sankranti herein Mumbai. They have the custom of flying kites high up in the air in the evenings that I can spot very rare from my flat. I just go to temple and pray to have a happy and prosperous year ahead.
Do you celebrate Pongal?
Thai Pongal celebrations
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© 2014 Radhika Sreekanth