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Pongal Festival of Tamil Nadu

Updated on May 7, 2013

The "PONGAL", unique Festival for Tamils.

Pongal is the great festival for Tamils in India. Pongal indicate the end of the usual farming season, giving farmers a break from their boring routine. This week long celebrations are not only unique, also traditional. In fact, four festivals are celebrated in Tamil Nadu for four successive days in that week. It is observed by the Tamils by offering boiled rice in milk to propitiate the Sun God. This Pongal food consists of sugar cane and sugar candy forms are the main offering to the Sun God.

It is begins with Bogi, next day is Pongal and another day is Mattu Pongal. The fourth day is Kanum Pongal or Thiruvalluvar day.


Giving thanks to God

The Tamil month of MARGAZHI, parallel mostly with December and running on to the 12th January, is measured by the Tamil People to be a Detrimental month. In ancient times, it was the month in which all kinds of outbreaks like cholera, fever and smallpox are theoretical to occur. That is why people of Tamil Nadu Calls this month as unhealthful and non promising month. The last day of this Tamil month is pragmatic as a festive day by the Tamilians in India in thanking to the God that the worst month has ended.

The feast is called the BOGI PANDIGAI. This feast is honor of Indira, the king of Heavens, the lord of the clouds, rain etc. Bogi is a feast of delight on account of relief from the catastrophic month of Margazhi. The Bogi is also the day of the year in which all the old utensils of house holds are replaced by new ones.

Pongal - Thai Pongal

Cooking Pongal
Cooking Pongal

Pongal is a Tamil term that Originally related to a particular type of rice preparation made for the Thai Pongal festival, to entreat the benedictions of God and Gods for a plentiful harvest year.

Pongal rice, usually sweet was consecrated contribution cooked at the temple or in a house amid rich celebrations.

To this day, in houses of Tamil Nadu, this tradition go on, even if now Pongal also provides to an assortment of rice dishes for a range of events.

For all Pongal prescriptions, still, cow's milk is applied.

Offerings and prayer

PONGAL is the fiesta which is pragmatic on the first day of the Tamil month THAI (next to the month of Margazhi). It is a New Year day astronomically and begins approximately 13th January every year. This Pongal festival is observed by the Tamils by submission boiled rice in milk to propitiate the Sun God. So the festival is called Pongal, which in means boiled rice. Everything sweet is supposed to please the Sun-God. So rice with sugar and milk is cooked on this day in every Tamil house hold. Rich men observe this day a commendable one for making charitable donations.

The season for marriages in Tamil family circles also originates on this day and lasts for six months. The brides for the year get their presents on the Pongal day and these are called Pongal Seer. They consists generally of new cloths, one or two ornaments and vessels and also sugar canes, oil, gee etc. The Pongal must be cooked in a new pot.

Mattu Pongal

Mattu Pongal
Mattu Pongal

The day after the Pongal is called the MATTU PONGAL feast, the feast in admiration of the cattle. On this day all the cows, bullocks, buffaloes and goats in the house hold are well washed and festooned. They are also worshiped, and cooked rice (Pongal) is given to them. Towards evening decorates of aloe fiber and cloths containing coins are tied to the horns of bullocks and cows and the animals are driven through the streets with drums and music. This formal procedure is not much observed in the cities and towns. Only in villagers observed these practice.


The celebrations continues...

Next day to the Mattupongal there comes the KANUMPONGAL. This celebration is nothing but spending time with family in some outer places. Visiting beaches, tourist spots, or relative houses, elderly people to get their blessings, temples for prayers etc.

This day is also called as THIRUVALLUVAR DAY. In remembrance of the Great saint, poet Thiruvalluvar Government of Tamil Nadu announced this day as Thiruvalluvar Day

From this day onwards the Jallikattu begins in various places.

Jallikattu - The Great Bull Fight.

Jallikattu - Painting
Jallikattu - Painting

In the villages, especially around Madurai, Trichy, Tirunelveli are the places for this Jallikattu-the Bull fight. Alanganallur near Madurai is familiar far Jallikattu and tourist from international destinations are visiting to see the unique game of Tamils. In olden days the bride chooses a person as her husband who has safely untied and brought to her the cloth tied to the horn of the fiercest bull.

The bulls are let loose with their horns carrying valuables amidst the din of drums and loud music which terrify and bewilder them. They run madly about and are purposely excited by the crowd. A young hero will declare that he will run after the bull and recover the valuables tied to its horn, and he does so often in a dexterous manner.. This is some time risky pursuit. These games are take place on a grand scale in villages. Accidents are very common but they are not allowed to interfere with the Pongal Festivity.

Jallikattu Vid - at Karungulam, Near Trichy

This Year: so far 1 died, 150 hurt in Jallikattu

A 28 year old famer was gored to death and 27 others sustained injuries at the Jallikattu held as part of the Pongal Celebrations at BUDALUR in Thanjavur District on Jan 16th 09. At the famous Palamedu Jallikattu, over 75 were injured, four of them critically, trying to ride the humps of ferocious bulls as they charged out of their enclosure in to the specially prepared arena, with spectators including several foreigners for the eagerly awaited annual show. Also, 50 young men were hurt, 20 of them badly, while trying to tame the bulls at the Jallikattu in Suriyur near Trichy. There are so many Jallikattu centers to be conducted in various places of Tamil Nadu.

No more Jallikattu In Tamil Nadu

The Supreme Court of India, on 30th Jan, 09 put the brakes on the ancient, traditional bull taming sport of Tamil Nadu as part of Pongal Celebrations, saying guidelines to prevent cruelty against animals have been violated. A Supreme Court bench headed by Chief Justice K G Balakrishnan said and directed the District Collectors in the state "not to give any more permission" for holding Jallikattu.

After continues fight against court order, the tamil jallikattu activists got permission from the court to conduct the jallikattu with some special guidance.

The opinion of most intellectuals and Tamil activists on Jallikattu is that this ancient sport is enjoys the iconic staus that should be approved in a world where masses are losing their cultural identity.

As per the classical texts, Jallikattu has survived for at least 2000 years. No one has the right to interrupt the cultural traditions, but appends that the sport should be persevered in a supervised manner.

The court interruption commanding the ban in the first place was needless and a case of intervention without knowing the ground factual basis.

Response from Tamils to Jallikattu ban

The interim ban on the traditional Tamil sport Jallikattu imposed by the top-court has drawn flak from the villagers, organizers and lovers of the sport.

The verdict has hurt the sentiments of Tamils. Jallikattu is not only a sport but also part of the temple festivals in the State. It is associated with the tradition and religious beliefs in this part of the country.

At the Mariamman Temple in Thennalur in Pudukottai Dt., has arranged for the event on Feb 11 as part of its temple festival. Its Trustee T.Senthil Kumar said, "The sport is conducted in keeping with the belief of villagers. If it is not held, it will invite the wrath of the village deities. So we will go ahead with the event at any cost.

Pongal Greeting
Pongal Greeting

Pongal at Woodlands - Vid

Sweet Pongal Recipe

Visitors Point of View - I would like to have your valuable comments/opinion/suggestion about this page. No HTML/Links please.

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    • srsddn lm profile image

      srsddn lm 

      4 years ago

      I have seen people from southern part of India celebrating Pongal while in north. I once attended such a celebration in cantonment area. I liked the dishes and the enthusiasm. Well written.

    • aesta1 profile image

      Mary Norton 

      4 years ago from Ontario, Canada

      Looks like most countries have a harvest festival.

    • takkhisa profile image


      5 years ago

      It would be great if i could see this festival in real life. Blessed!

    • KimGiancaterino profile image


      5 years ago

      Thank you ... I learned a lot about the Pongal festival and traditions.

    • profile image


      5 years ago

      A very interesting lens about this festival. Happy Pongal!

    • allaboutdubai profile image


      5 years ago

      The Pongal Festival seems great. Love to be there. You can check about amazing Dubai Festival here.

    • profile image


      5 years ago

      Forgot to mention FB liked.

    • profile image


      5 years ago

      Just 10 days and 13 hours to the Pongal Festival, I'm sure excitement is in the air....I realized my angel dust didn't take in September and glad to sprinkle some now....have a wonderful festival!

    • VspaBotanicals profile image


      5 years ago

      Just learned about this festival. Wonderful lens!

    • WriterJanis2 profile image


      6 years ago

      This sounds like quite a festival.

    • profile image


      6 years ago

      Returning with blessing for Pongal, its just 125 days away. I had forgotten so much here, what a meaningful festival time.

    • TransplantedSoul profile image


      6 years ago

      I love learning about other cultures. I had a good friend in university from Tamil Nadu. Hopefully one day I will be able to visit.

    • TonyPayne profile image

      Tony Payne 

      7 years ago from Southampton, UK

      What a wonderful lens to introduce us to this interesting festival. It's a shame that the bull fighting tradition had to stop, but sometimes these days governments put safety in front of tradition. Maybe that's the right thing to do, but sad nevertheless. Excellent lens, love the photos and other artwork, blessed.

    • profile image


      7 years ago

      Very happy to see you promoting the cultures and traditions of India. Well done and please continue your great work. God bless. :)

    • drs2biz lm profile image

      David Schroeter 

      7 years ago from St Kilda, Victoria, Australia

      A fascinating lens that is beautifully presented, sukkran. Thank you for sharing your culture with us. I would like to see a Countdown Module on this lens, for next year. ~ Blessed ~

    • darciefrench lm profile image

      darciefrench lm 

      7 years ago

      Such bright colors, I'd love to visit.

    • profile image


      7 years ago

      Beautifully done, interesting and informative! Belated Happy Pongal blessings to you, just missed it a little over a week.

    • shiwangipeshwani profile image


      7 years ago

      Lovely lens and a very detailed information about Pongal, I also have a lens on Indian festivals, have a look and suggest me if any changes I can make.

    • sukkran trichy profile imageAUTHOR

      sukkran trichy 

      8 years ago from Trichy/Tamil Nadu

      @Wednesday-Elf: thank you pat for your greeting. today is pongal lot of festivity here. best of luck and take care.

    • Wednesday-Elf profile image


      8 years ago from Savannah, Georgia

      Happy Pongal to you. May your New Year be a wonderful one for you. It was very interesting to read about the Pongal festivals in India.

    • mbgphoto profile image

      Mary Beth Granger 

      8 years ago from O'Fallon, Missouri, USA

      Very interesting lens! 5*

    • OhMe profile image

      Nancy Tate Hellams 

      8 years ago from Pendleton, SC

      I noticed that Pongal must start tomorrow. Pongal sure looks like a grand way to bring in the new year.

    • religions7 profile image


      9 years ago

      Great lens, but you knew that :) Just wanted to tell you that this is featured on the Hinduism, Yoga and Indian Culture Headquarters:

      It's now transformed into a lensography and I would love it if you could feature it here, or lensroll it or something.

    • Sensitive Fern profile image

      Sensitive Fern 

      9 years ago

      I didn't know there were bullfights in India. Makes me wonder if that is where they originated. interesting lens. :)

    • religions7 profile image


      9 years ago

      Great start. Please submit to my Hinduism & Yoga group :)

    • BrianRS profile image

      Brian Stephens 

      9 years ago from France

      Nice lens Sukkran, interesting account of these festivities which you have described very well.

    • sukkran trichy profile imageAUTHOR

      sukkran trichy 

      9 years ago from Trichy/Tamil Nadu

      [in reply to tdove] hi,tdove, thanks for your visit and comments. it is really encouraging me.

    • profile image


      9 years ago

      Sounds interesting. I learned a lot about Pongal here. Thanks for visiting my Spanish lens.

    • evelynsaenz1 profile image

      Evelyn Saenz 

      9 years ago from Royalton

      The Jallikattu sound similar to the bull fights of Costa Rica, where many young men chase after a bull, trying to touch it's horns or pull it's tail. Are the bulls of Tamil killed at the end of the event as they are in Spain?


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