New Delhi: Pongal marks the beginning of harvest season. It is one of the most important festivals of Tamil Nadu and falls around the same time as Lohri and Makar Sankranti. Pongal is celebrated to express gratitude to Sun God. People pray for a good harvest and wish for a prosperous life. Also called 'Thai Pongal', the festival is spread over four days. This year, Pongal is being celebrated from January 15 to January 18.
Here's how Pongal is celebrated:
The first day of the festival is known as 'Bhogi' Pongal'. It is celebrated on the last day of the Tamil month 'Margazhi'. On this day, people decorate their homes and buy new utensils. They light a bonfire and burn discarded furniture and other old stuff at home. 'Bhogi Pongal' is dedicated to Indra, the God of rains, to whom prayers are offered, with thanks and hopes for plentiful rains in the year ahead.
On the second day, known as 'Perum Pongal', people worship the Sun God who blesses the earth with energy. It is the first day of the Tamil calendar month 'Tai'. 'Perum Pongal' is celebrated with family and friends. Women decorate their courtyards with rangolis or kolams, which is made of rice flour. A Pongal us dish prepared in a traditional earthen pot in an open space.
The third day, people celebrate 'Mattu Pongal'. On this day, people, especially farmers, worship cattle, which is their source of livelihood. Cows and buffaloes are bathed, decorated with garlands and worshipped.
With 'Kaanum Pongal', the four-day festival ends. On the last day, people perform the traditional dance 'Kolattam' and consume their staple food. Women observe a special ritual for their brothers. Families and friends unite to celebrate 'Kaanum Pongal' together and seek blessings from elders.
Apart from Pongal, harvest festivals like Makar Sankranti, Lohri, Bihu is celebrated across India with much fervour.
Wish you and your family a very happy Pongal!