FESTIVAL OF HARVEST
Pongal is an important festivial of South India that falls in the mid-January every year. Pongal marks the auspicious beginning of Uttarayana, the Sun’s movement northward & also the harvesting time. Traditional activities mark the four-days-long Pongal celebrations. Cows are bedecked with ornaments & taken out in processions. House entrance is decorated with beautiful Kolam designs. In Tamil Nadu, Pongal is also a sweet porridge recipe cooked from the new rice.
FOUR DAYS OF PONGAL
Here is a brief description of the four-day-long celebrations of Pongal festival.
Bogi festival or Bhogi is the first day of Pongal and is celebrated in honor of Lord Indra, “the God of Clouds and Rains”. Lord Indra is worshiped for the abundance of harvest, thereby bringing plenty and prosperity to the land. Thus, this day is also known as Indran. On Bhogi all people clean out their homes from top to bottom, and collect all unwanted goods. This day is meant for domestic activities and of being together with the family members.
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.
The third day of Pongal is dedicated to cattle and is called Mattu Pongal. People offer prayers to the bulls, cows and other farm animals. Cows and bulls have always held a special place in India. Cows give nourishing milk while bulls and oxen help plough the fields. Thus, Maatu Pongal is a day when cattle are given a well deserved day of rest and are given pride of place. Therefore the farmers honor their cattle friends by celebrating it as a day of thanks-giving to them.
THIRUVALLUVAR DAY/KAANUM PONGAL
The fourth day of the three-day Pongal celebrations is called Kaanum Pongal. In few places this day is also known as Karinaal or Thiruvalluvar Day. It is dedicated to the sun god, Surya and has its roots in ancient Brahminical tradition. Since Pongal is a rural, agrarian based festival that celebrates the harvests, the sun is a vital part of the proceedings. This is because the Sun is the symbol of life on Earth. Without the Sun, crops cannot sprout and grow. Without the Sun, harvests will not be plentiful.
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