Saturday, September 25, 2010

Pongal Festival

Pongal festival is on 14th of January, Monday in 2013, on 14th of January, Tuesday in 2014 and on 15th of January, Thursday in 2015.

Time and venue of Pongal celebrations

Pongal is another joyous and also important harvest festival that is mainly celebrated in the state of Tamil Nadu of India, just after the winter solstice. It is also celebrated in Sri Lanka. Pongal is celebrated as Makar Snakranthi or Makar Snakranti in the rest of the country. This festival extends from the last day of the Tamil month of Maargazhi to the first day of the Tamil month of Thai, which falls from 13-15 of the month of January of the English or Georgian calendar.

[caption id="attachment_1721" align="alignright" width="300" caption="Pongal festival in Tamil Nadu"]Pongal festival in Tamil Nadu[/caption]

Pongal festivities

The four days of Pongal are sequentially known as Bhoji Pongal, Surya Pongal, Mattu Pongal, and Kaanum Pongal. Apart from the main dish of Pongal, people also prepare a lot of other delicacies, mainly sweets and savories, such as vadai, murukku, and payasam. People visit their friends and relatives and exchange greetings and seek blessings of elders.

Bhoji Pongal

The day before Pongal is known as Bhoji in Tamil. On this day, people discard old things and embrace new. The people assemble round a bonfire at dawn to discard the used and old possessions. As a preparation of Pongal, the houses are cleaned and beautifully painted and decorated to give it a festive look.

Surya Pongal

This day is dedicated to the Sun God and is celebrated by boiling rice with milk and jaggery in new pots mixed with brown sugar, cashew nuts, and raisins. This dish is cooked at sunrise, preferably in earthen pots over a wooden fire. The preparation of this dish forms the basis of the celebrations as the festival derives its name Pongal from the tradition; Pongal in Tamil means boiling over or spilling over. Ritual is to boil the milk so that it bubbles out of the vessel and people shout Ponggalo Ponggal as it happens. A conch is also blown. This freshly prepared rice is first offered to the Sun God as a sign of gratitude for the successful harvest. It is then served to the family members.

Mattu Pongal

The third day of the festival is dedicated to cattle and other livestock. Shepherds thank their cattle, and also give their cows and bulls a nice bath and adorn them. Cattle race and a game of young men chasing bulls are played.

Kaanum Pongal

Fourth day is again the day of Sun God and is celebrated by preparing several special dishes that are offered to the deity. This is an auspicious day to visit friends and family.

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