Pongal festival is the first festival beginning off each new year
in the Indian state of Tamil Nadu. As the dates for pongal
festival are calculated by the solar calander (ie. Western), the
dates of January 13-16 never change. When the harvest is over, the
people of Tamil Nadu express their gratitude to the gods, the
earth and their cattle. For four days, they celebrate with abandon
and worship with devotion. Each day of this festival has a special
significance, however, it is celebrated more grandly in the
villages, while the city folk mainly celebrate on the second day
Kolam ( Rangoli) :-
Preparations for the festival of pongal start early and the first
thing that is always found in Hindu homes before the start of "Pongal
Festival" or "Harvest Festival" is the 'kolam'. This is a form of
decoration for the Hindus' homes. This decorative pattern is made
with rice flour & is usually drawn on the floor, outside the door
in tamilnadu. The kolams serve as a symbol of welcoming guests to
the entrance of the house. At the center of the Kolam is a lump of
cow-dung, which holds a five-petalled pumpkin flower-a symbol of
fertility and an offering of love to the presiding deity.
The first day - Bhogi
The first day od pongal is celebrated as the Bhogi Pongal and is
usually meant for domestic activities and of being together with
the family members. This first day is celebrated in honour of Lord
Indra, the supreme ruler of clouds that give rains. 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 second day - Pongal
The second day of harvest festival is known as 'Pongal', in
tamionadu, the most important day of the entire festival, where
prayers are offered to the Sun. On this day, the Sun is given
great importance. On the morning of this day, the family will
gather outside their houses and cook 'pongal' in clay pots. When
the rice inside the pot overflows, the people will cry out 'Pongal
O Pongal' and pray to the Sun.
The overflow of rice symbolizes a prosperous farming season for
them. On this auspicious day, people will visit each other and
dine. Sweets are also cooked in the Hindus homes for the guests.
The third day - Maatu Pongal
The third day is known as Mattu Pongal, the day of Pongal for
cows. To the village people cow, the giver of milk and the bull
which draws the plough in the fields are very valuable and
therefore the farmers honour their dumb friends by celebrating it
as a day of thanks-giving to them. The cattle are washed, their
horns are painted and covered with shining metal caps.
Kanu Pongal, which falls on the same day as Maatu Pongal, is
celebrated by sisters for the welfare of their brothers. Pongal or
Harvest festival of Tamilnadu is reminiscent of Raksha Bandhan and
Bhai Dooj of North India.