Festivals of India - Pongal

Tuesday, November 14, 2006 Dr. Vishaal Bhat 1 Comments


Sankranti is termed Pongal in Tamil Nadu and falls in the month of January (Thai). Pongal literally means boiling over. It is traditionally celebrated at the time of harvest of crops and hence is a celebration of the richness associated with the event.

It is being celebrated for four days. Therefore the month of Thai is considered to be an auspicious month for every kind of activity. The houses are white washed and decorated and the kolams (Rangoli) are drawn at the entrance of the house to welcome the guests.

At the centre of the kolam is a lump of cow-dung is put with a five-petalled pumpkin flower, which is a symbol of fertility. The Sun God is worshipped during this festival. The four-day festival starts with Bhogi celebrated on January 13, Pongal on on January 14, Mattu Pongal on January 15 and Thiruvalluvar Day on January 16.It is the time when the people get ready to thank God, earth and their cattle for the wonderful harvest and celebrate the occasion with joyous festivities and rituals.

During the first day -- Bhogi, the house is cleaned and all the waste materials are collected and burned, representing the destruction of iniquity. The second day is dedicated to Sun God, wherein the dish called Pongal, a dish with new rice, dal, jaggery, dry fruits, sugar and milk is cooked in a new clay pot in the open and allowed to boil over, and laid before Sun God and pray him to give them joy and peace throughout the year.

This is offered to the Sun God and taken as prasad. When the rice is boiled and when the water comes up in the clay pot and spills down, there is a strong belief associated with it which, represents the good and bad omen in the house. The third day is devoted to worship of cattle-- Mattu Pongal, since cattle are considered to be the most vital contributors for agriculture related activities.

During the Mattu Pongal Day, women would pray for the welfare of their brothers which is called Kanu Pongal. The fourth day is devoted to Thiruvalluvar.

In addition, the most significant aspect of festival is an event known as Jellikattu. The villagers try to catch the horns of ferocious bulls and try to get the money tied to their horns.

Those days an individual who catches a bull would be considered to be a brave and courageous person.

When the harvest is over, the Tamils express their gratitude to gods, the earth and their cattle through this auspicious festival known as Pongal.




Tags: sankranti, pongal, , bhogi

1 comment :

  1. Hi Vishal, Really appreciate your blog.. It gives great information on Indian Festivals and culture. Well, I found a great resource on Pongal Festival at http://www.pongalfestival.org/I have bookmarked your blog.Ruchi

    ReplyDelete