Pongal also known as “Thai Pongal” is a 4 day festival celebrated majorly across all over TamilNadu and also as Makar Sankranti in Other parts of India. “Thai” in Thai Pongal indicates the 10th month in Tamil Calendar approximately around January mid, which is the month for harvesting the crops like rice, sugarcane, turmeric etc that are cultivated. It is a Hindu festival that is dedicated to the Sun God. It also marks the end of the Winter season and also the beginning of Spring Season. This was a festival celebrated by Farmers in earlier times for thanking and promoting Agriculture. It was celebrated by Farmers as a Thanksgiving ceremony for the current year’s crop harvest. Now this has become a festival to celebrate both the farmers and agriculture together. We are celebrating it as a Thanksgiving ceremony for farmers and agriculture together since they are the reason we eat daily. The festival is thus an occasion when the fresh harvests from the fields are shared in the form of food and sweets not only with the community but also with animals and birds. This is a festival, where people irrespective of their caste and Creed, wealth and status, gather together cook pongal together and eat them together. This was how they thanked the Sun and the rain which helped in proper cultivation of the crops they sowed in their fields.
During this Festival, People usually cook the dish called “Pongal” at their homes or at a temple or at a place where their family and friends reunion is happening. In Villages, People cook pongal together on temple grounds or near their crop fields together.
The Pongal which they cook are of two types
- Sweet Pongal
- Ven Pongal.
Traditionally for Sweet Pongal, People would use the freshly cultivated rice that is being harvested for the Pongal they make. Actually on Pongal day traditionally, Pongal is cooked and then offered mainly to the Sun God and also to other God and goddesses and then to the cattles. Only after worshiping the Sun God, people would start eating the pongal that was cooked. Sweet Pongal is tastiest dish that is actually prepared by boiling rice in a pot of milk and jaggery together along with Cardamoms, Cashew nuts, raisins (dried grapes), etc. Ven pongal is a type of Pongal that is prepared, which would have absolutely nothing not even salt. Only the freshly cultivated rice is boiled in water but the boiled rice will be in sticky form. And also as a side dish for this, they would prepare a Curry called “Kadhambam” which has a mix of a lot of vegetables in single curry. Some people make it as salt and savoury type also. But Most People cook Sweet Pongal that Ven pongal. In my Home, My mom does both on the day of Pongal.
Pongal is actually celebrated for 4 days.
Day 1 – Bhogi
Day 2 – Pongal ( The Day dedicated to Sun)
Day 3 – Maatu Pongal ( The Day dedicated to Cattles)
Day 4 – Kaanum Pongal ( The Day dedicated for get togethers and reunions with Friends & Family and also for visiting famous places in and around your Hometown)
Day 1 – Bogi:
Bogi is the last day of Margazhi. Margazhi is the 9th month of Tamil Calendar. Bogi is celebrated on the day before Pongal. On the Day of Bogi, everyone would burn most of the old useless things in their home. The things they burn are like Old Bed sheets, Old clothes, Old broken wooden furnitures, etc. People would do fasting (Nonbu) on the day of Bogi. The disposal of Old useless things is where all old habits, vices, attachment to relations and material things are sacrificed in the sacrificial fire. It represents realization, transformation and purification of the soul by imbibing and inculcating various divine virtues. In TamilNadu, Children would gather and play around the fire by making sounds with mini Bogi drums made from Skin of Cattles. Even people would throw that mini Bogi drums into the fire at the end. The Only thing is that you have to make your mind clear, leave all the negatives and unwanteds behind, have a fresh start from the day of the Pongal. That is the only required outcome of this.
Day 2 – Pongal:
On the day of Pongal, People would wake up early, they would make colourful rangolis called “Kolam” using Rice powder and colour powder in front of their homes. Mostly people would make a Kolam of Pongal Pots with sugarcanes on the sides. After rangoli, everyone would have a traditional style of bathing and would wear traditional dresses mostly dhotis and sarees. Then the Women in the house would make Pongal in a clay pot in a traditional clay stoves that uses logs for burning. Mostly in the cities on the terraces they would do this. Under the Sun. The Pots will have turmeric plantations on each side of the pots. And also 2 or 3 sugarcanes would be surrounding the pot. As I said earlier, Pongal was celebrated traditionally with the cultivated crops that are harvested. Mostly at this point of pongal time, people would harvest rice, sugarcane, turmeric etc. And so they are used around the pots. After cooking pongal, it is offered to the Sun God and then the family would sometimes visit the temples for worshipping. Then they would return back and eat pongal the whole day as breakfast, lunch and dinner. I don’t know about you. But in my house that is what is happening always 😅.
Day 3 – Maatu Pongal :
Maatu pongal is festival for thanking the cattles mostly bulls which helped in the cultivation. Bulls help in ploughing fields for crop cultivation. People would wake up early and make kolams which resemble bulls and also they would make kolams of sugarcanes and other things on their sides. Legends says that Lord shiva had once sent his bull, Basava, to earth with his message for the mortals, asking them to have an oil bath everyday and eat once a month. But Basava however, mistakenly announced that Shiva has asked people to eat daily and have an oil bath once a month. Enraged Shiva banished Basava to the Earth forever, cursing he would have to plough the fields to help people produce more food. Hence the association of the day to cattle.
An important village sport, called the Jallikattu or Manju Virattu, an integral part of the Mattu Pongal festival is observed with enthusiasm and expectations in the villages of Tamil Nadu. This sport is held generally in the evening of the Mattu Pongal day. In the past, it was the day when fierce bulls were chased by young youths of the village to retrieve the money that was tied to the horns of the bulls. In some villages it was held one day after the Mattu Pongal day, on the Kaanum Pongal day. In those days, people would marry their daughter to the person who can hold on to the hump like region on the back of fierce bulls (திமிழ்). Also Uriyadi (Breaking the Pots tied to a rope with eyes closed with clothes) is also a regular one during pongal times. Other than this Rekla Race (Bullock cart race), contest for Lifting huge stones (IlavattaKal), Silambam etc is also conducted on the Western parts of TamilNadu. Jalli Kattu is most famous in Alanganallur. The gate from which the bulls are sent out into the open path towards youths is called Vaadivaasal. There are other gifts like bero, chairs, grinders, TV etc nowadays for Jallikattu.
Day 4 – Kaanum Pongal:
On the day of Kaanum Pongal which is the last day of pongal, Everyone would visit their relative’s house and and greet them with pongal wishes. Most of the reunions and get togethers happens on this day. People would visit a lot of famous places in and around their hometown with their friends and family. Even special buses are arranged by the government on the day for helping people to travel around the city. I traveled to places like Marina beach, bessy beach, VGP, Valluvar kottam, Mahabalipuram, Kovalam, MGM etc in chennai on Kaanum Pongal day. Also all the theatres would become house full on this day. That too if it is a big actors movie that is going on. Then just forget about getting tickets on Kaanum Pongal day. Also on this day, people would offer the remains of the pongal that was cooked to the birds and other animals.
Happy Pongal Everyone !! Celebrate Hard !! If you could not start the year afresh from new year at least start it now. From this pongal, discard all negative thoughts, unwanted beliefs etc. Treat Everyone equally, Communicate to everyone, visit your relatives, give gifts to the children in your relatives side, meet your grandma and grandpa ask them how their health is. Ask your parents what they want from you this year and follow their way. Believe me you will never fail if you work in your parents way. Play with your siblings, visit places with your friends and family. Wear Dhotis, Wear sarees, Take photos, Smile, laugh, dance, sing. Spread Love to each other. We have only one life. Live it without hesitation. I am changing myself to the responsible path today. When are you changing? Just think. Take Care of yourself and also your family. Remember, Human is a social Animal. You need people in your life more than money. You work hard and earn money that is needed but don’t forget to earn people on the progress of your life.
உழவு தொழில் பார்த்து
ஊருக்கு அமுது ஊட்டும் விவசாயம் பார்த்து
நாத்து விட்டு நடவு நட்டு கலையெடுத்து கதிர் வந்து அறுவடை தயார் நிலையில் இருக்க தை பிறந்தால் வழி பிறக்க
சூரியனுக்கு நன்றி கூறி
பகுத்துண்டு பல்லுயிர் ஓம்புக
என்னும் மரபு மாறாத தமிழனின் பெருநாள்
தைத்திருநாள் நல்வாழ்த்துக்கள் !!
இனிய பொங்கல் நல்வாழ்த்துக்கள் நவரத்திரணங்களே !! சிரித்து கொண்டே இருங்கள் !! மென்மேலும் மகிழ்ந்து கொண்டே இருங்கள் !!!!!!!