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Pongal

Date: 14th January
Location: Tamilnadu, India
Eminent For: Traditional Festival
Major Highlights: Rangoli, Rice Pudding, Tamil New Year

Pongal is a traditional celebration observed by the people of Tamilnadu in the month of January. The festival is rejoiced in adjacent states of Tamil Nadu in a smaller scale, but in Tamil Nadu it is celebrated in grand manner. The festival falls as per Tamil calendar, so the date of the celebration doesn’t vary much. The festival falls in between January 13 to 16. The festival is regarded as the harvest festival of Tamil & is observed more grandly in village.

First Day of the Festival:
On the very first day, people clean and wash their homes by removing unwanted stuffs. By evening, the unwanted items are burnt to clear the mess. The frontier of the home is painted. The poor farmers living in villages reconstruct the frontage of their huts & repast the floor as well as accessway with cow dung.

Second Day of the Festival:
The second day of the festival is celebrated as Thai Pongal and it falls in the first day of the subsequent Tamil Month Thai. It is considered the main day of this festival. On this very day, people adulate the Sun god to thank him for blessing them with good crop in the last season. Women make sophisticated kolam to delight the gods. On this day people wear new dresses to celebrate the festival. The meaning of Pongal is ‘overflowing of food/milk” in the kitchen. People boil new rice with milk & jaggery in clay pots. The moment the milk overflows and bubbles come out of the vessel is a joyous occasion for people. When the rice is overflowing, people excitingly shout out ‘Pongalo Pongal!’ The moment is regarded as lucky and prosperous. The newly prepared rice is traditionally offered to the Sun at sunrise to show gratitude and later it is served to the family members.

Third Day of the Festival:
The third day of the festival is called “Mattu Pongal”, which is related with cattle. On this very day cattle are decorated with flowers and offered good food. This day thereby signifies the importance of cattle in agricultural activities. The farm animals are taken to the village centers for cattle competition where villagers gather to watch the competition. Big hullabaloo can be seen when the game “Manji Virattu” gets started in which young men hound the running bulls. At some locations “Jallikattu” is held. It is a bull fight competition in which money bags are attached to the horns of the fierce bulls & unarmed competitors try to run off with the wads of money that are tied to the horns of the bulls. At times, a red piece of cloth is tied & the one who wards off that cloth from the horns of the bulls gets rewarded. Competition like chewing of sugarcane is also held.

Fourth Day of the Festival:
The fourth day also called Kaanum Pongal is a time for family reunion. On this very day people pay a visit to their relatives’ houses and greet each other. Married women visit their parents’ home with gifts and sweets.

Since Pongal is a pastoral, agrarian based celebration that rejoices harvests, the Sun is considered a vital part of the events. It is due to the fact that the Sun is the representation of life on the earth and without it corps cannot sprout & grow.