About Pongal Festival
Pongal is celebrated mostly in South India over four days, by farmers who give thanks to ‘Surya’, the Sun God and giver of life, for the blessings of a rich harvest. In the Tamil language the word Pongal means “overflowing,” signifying abundance and prosperity.
The origins of the Thai Pongal festival may date to more than 5000 years ago.
Epigraphic evidence suggests the celebration of the Puthiyeedu during the Medieval Chola empire days. Puthiyeedu is believed to represent the first harvest of the year. Tamil people refer to Pongal as “Tamizhar Thirunaal,” the festival of Tamizhs.
The day preceding Pongal is called ‘Bhogi’. On this day people discard old belongings and celebrate new possessions.
On the second day, ‘Surya Pongal’, the Sun God is honoured. Every household cooks a pot of rice with milk to offer up to Surya at dawn.
The third day, called ‘Mattu Pongal’, is set aside to honour cattle – cows are sacred animals in the Hindu religion.
The last day, called ‘Kannum Pongal’, is all about the community and strengthening ties. Younger members seek the blessing of the older members of their families.
The day preceding Pongal is called Bhogi. On this day people discard old belongings and celebrate new possessions. The disposal of worn-out items is similar to the traditions of Holika in North India. The people assemble at dawn in Tamil Nadu to light a bonfire in order to burn the discards.
Houses are cleaned, painted and decorated to give a festive look. The horns of oxen and buffaloes are painted in villages. In Tamil Nadu, farmers place medicinal herbs (neem, avram, sankranti) in the northeast corner of each field to protect crops from diseases and pests.
The second day of Pongal is known as 'Surya Pongal' and is dedicated to the Sun God. It is the day on which the celebration actually begins and is also the first day of the Tamil month Thai.
On this day the granaries are full, the sun shines brightly, trees are in full bloom, bird-songs resound in the air and hearts overflow with happiness that get translated into colorful and joyous celebrations.
On this day the new rice is collected and cooked in pots until they over flow. It is this overflowing which means Pongal. This overflowing of rice is a joyous occasion, and the children and adults as well will shout out 'Pongal-o-Pongal!'
On the day of pongal devotees clean their homes and decorate it with ‘kolam’. On this day, Kolam of Sun God is drawn as the prime deity in the month of Thai is Sun God.
Kolam drawn using rice flour and different colour powders- by female members of the family on or before dawn. Traditionally dwellings are whitewashed with in the month of Margazhi to welcome the auspicious Thai Pongal.
Kolam drawn in front of houses.Tamils decorate their homes with banana and mango leaves and embellish the floor with decorative patterns drawn using rice flour. kolams/rangolis are drawn on doorsteps. Family elders present gifts to the young.
Maatu Pongal is celebrated the day after Thai Pongal. On the day ,we give them a bath and paint their horns,decorate our cattle with kumkum and turmeric.The cattle will be fed with sugarcane and sweets.
Tamils regard cattle as sources of wealth for providing dairy products, fertilizer, and labor for plowing and transportation. On Maatu Pongal, cattle are recognized and afforded affectionately. Features of the day include games such as the Jallikkattu and taming wild bull.
Pongal is an important harvest festival of Tamil Nadu and Kaanum Pongal is celebrated as the last and fourth day of the Pongal festivities. The celebrations of Pongal come to an end with Kaanum Pongal.
Kaanum Pongal is an ancient festival for the Tamils and it is celebrated on the third day of month of ‘Thai’ in the Tamil calendar. Kaanum Pongal is also acknowledged as ‘Thiruvalluvar Day’ in remembrance of the great Tamil philosopher and poet named ‘Thiruvalluvar’. Kaanum Pongal is the day of relaxation and enjoyment and people spend time by socializing or visiting each other’s house.