Why celebrate Pongal? - A festival in South India
This Hub contains the views of the author alone and does not intend to hurt the sentiments of any sect/community.
Pongal is a famous and important festival in South India which acts as a thanksgiving ceremony and harvest festival. Pongal marks the movement of Sun from South to North which is considered auspicious. Pongal is celebrated as Makara Sankranthi throughout India as the winter harvest.
Pongal is celebration time for farmers and they thank nature for aiding in producing a bumper harvest. It is celebrated on the first day of "Thai" month and it is considered highly auspicious and marks the beginning of good things and a new harvest season. Cows are considered divine in India as they aid in farming and are integral in every aspect of farming, though nowadays, we have machines replacing them in ploughing and chemicals replacing their dung as manure. On the day after Pongal, "Maattu Pongal" is celebrated. Farmers worship cows and thank them for all the help in their farming endeavors.
Pongal is one festival which makes a lot of sense to me as I can understand the reason for the celebrations. Farmers are the backbone of any country and it is apt for them to thank nature for sustained farming throughout the year. Considering the state of farmers and farming today, the relevance of celebrating Pongal in cities does not seem to make any sense.
The number of farmer suicides in the last ten years is over 1.5 lakhs in India. Statistics say that every 12 hours, one farmer attempts to commit suicide in India. Some reasons for these suicides are:
1. Growing expenditue
2. Low Productivity
3. Natural Hazards
4. Drinking habit
5. Accumulated burden of debt
We have ignored all this and all we do is just celebrate pongal by eating sweets and savories. How many of us actually understand the reason behind celebration of Pongal? Farmers are in villages and we are in cities happily leading our lives not concerned about their life and fate!
What do we do for the farmers? We read about their suicides in newspapers and just discuss about them. We discuss about Organic Farming and why it is not being implemented by all farmers. We talk about Global Warming and various other factors that disrupt farming like low rainfall or floods unaware of the fact what we do in cities also destroys nature which gets reflected in villages. We blame the government for not taking any step to save farmers. In spite of all this, we celebrate Pongal - the farmer's festival with all grandeur.
We still seem to hold on to the ritual part of it, not understanding the meaning behind them. So we are far away from the farmers and it is practically not possible to go to help them in person always. What do we do to protect nature? Nature is the reason we can do farming and in turn eat, but all we do is do everything that destroys nature in one way or the other. Altogether, we do not do anything productive to save farms or farmers, but then celebrate Pongal - Have holidays, go for Pongal release movies, eat sumptuous meals at home, watch television whole day, gossip about useless things.
Then comes the "Kanu" function - offering food for ancestors who are believed to be in the form of crows. We offer food to the crows in different non-edible forms in multiple colours which is nothing but absolute waste of food, when millions in your country are dying without food! We do not understand the reason behind this ritual but waste so much rice. Venting about Kanu can be another hub altogether!
Quoting Bharathiyar - Nenju Porukkudhillaye Indha Nilai Ketta maandharai Ninaithu vittal - (Heart bleeds to think about the senseless humans)