Bhogi, Festival of
Bhogi festival or Bhogi
(Celebrated mainly in South India) 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.
All the houses from the richest to the humblest are thoroughly
scrubbed and whitewashed. Homes are cleaned and decorated with "Kolam"
- floor designs drawn in the white paste of newly harvested rice
with outlines of red mud. Often pumpkin flowers are set into
cow-dung balls and placed among the patterns. Fresh harvest of rice,
turmeric and sugarcane is brought in from the field as preparation
for the following day.
A special puja is performed on the first day of Pongal before the
cutting of paddy. Farmers worship the sun and the earth by anointing
their ploughs and sickles with sandalwood paste. It is with these
consecrated tools that the newly-harvested rice is cut.
Another ritual observed on this day is Bhogi Mantalu, when useless
household articles are thrown into a fire made of wood and cow-dung
cakes. Girls dance around the bonfire, singing songs in praise of
the gods, the spring and the harvest. The significance of the
bonfire, in which is burnt the agricultural wastes and firewood is
to keep warm during the last lap of winter.
In Andhra Pradesh this day is celebrated by girls burning their old
clothes and wearing the new ones after an oil massage and bath. Then
follows Pongal Panai, a ritual in which new earthenware pots are
painted and decorated with turmeric, flowers and mango leaves.