Today we are going to talk about the Pongal Festival. This festival is also known as Thai Pongal. Pongal Festival is the multi-day Tamil harvest festival of South India. This festival is observed at the beginning of the month of Tai according to the Tamil solar calendar. And the Pongal Festival is usually around January 14th. So let's gather a little more information about the Pongal Festival.
The Pongal Festival is dedicated to the Sun God and this festival also coincides with the solstice. Pongal Festival is a harvest festival celebrated under many regional names across India. The three days of this festival are called Bhogi, Mattu Ponga and Surya Pongal. Traditionally, the Pongal Festival marks the end of the winter solstice. During the Pongal Festival when the Sun enters Capricorn the Sun begins a six month long journey to the north.
This festival has been officially named "Pongal" and means "overflow, to boil''. And this Festival refers to a traditional dish prepared from a new harvest of rice boiled in milk with jaggery. A sweet dish is prepared for the Pongal Festival and is first offered to the gods and goddesses and then sometimes to the cow and then shared by the family. Celebrations of the Pongal Festival include decorative cows and their horns, religious baths and processions.
During the Pongal Festival, people traditionally decorate rice-powder based columns, pray in temples, gather with family and friends and celebrate with enthusiasm. And the Pongal Festival is considered an occasion to exchange gifts for renewal in the social bond of unity. This festival is known as one of the most important festivals celebrated by Tamils in Tamil Nadu and Puducherry in India. Pongal Festival is also known as one of the major Tamil festivals in Sri Lanka. The Pongal Festival is celebrated by the Tamil Diaspora in South Africa, Malaysia, Singapore, the United States, the United Kingdom and Canada.
The preparation of the dish during the celebration of the Pongal Festival is its most notable practice. The Pongal Festival dish uses freshly chopped rice, which is then boiled in milk and raw cane sugar. Additional ingredients are sometimes added to this festival's sweet dish, including raisins, cardamom, green gram and cashews. Other ingredients in the Pongal Festival dish include coconut and ghee.
During the Pongal Festival, women in some communities carry their "cooking utensils near the temple of their choice in the town center or just in front of their house" and cook together as a social occasion. During this festival the cooking of that dish is done in the sunlight. And all relatives and friends are invited to eat this dish.
The Pongal Festival dish is cooked in an earthenware vessel that is often garlanded with leaves or flowers. Sometimes this dish is made with a piece of turmeric. This dish is considered a ritual dish during the Pongal Festival. Parts of the sweet dish of this festival are distributed as prasadam in Hindu temples.
History and Etymology
The name of this festival comes from the name of a sweet dish of rice boiled in milk and jaggery which is eaten religiously on the day of this festival. An inscription in the Veeraraghava temple dedicated to Lord Vishnu mentions the festival of Pongal Festival. An inscription submitted to Chola king Kulottunga I during 1070-1122 CE has given a grant of land to the temple for the celebration of the annual Thees Festival. And in the 9th century Shiva Bhakti Granth, Manikkavachakar vividly mentions the festival of Pongal Festival.
Information about the Pongal Festival appears in numerous texts and inscriptions with a variety of spellings. The inscriptions of some of the major Hindu temples from the Chola dynasty to the Vijayanagara period contain detailed Pongal Festival recipe recipes that are essentially similar to modern-day Pongal dishes.
Days of the Pongal Festival
Pongal Festival is celebrated for three or four days in Tamil Nadu. But this festival is celebrated for a day or two in urban places and especially in the Tamil Diaspora community outside South Asia.
1. Surya Pongal
Surya Pongal is also called Perum Pongal or Suryan Pongal. Surya Pongal is the second and main festival day of the festival. And Surya Pongal is dedicated to the Hindu god Surya. Surya Pongal is the first day of the Tamil calendar month Tai. And Surya Pongal is associated with Capricorn. Surya Pongal is the day of the beginning of the solstice and when the Sun enters the 10th house of Capricorn. Surya Pongal is celebrated with family and friends with a pongal dish made in a traditional earthenware pot in an open space with sun sight. On the day of Surya Pongal the dish is first offered to Surya and Ganesha.
2. Bhogi Pongal
The festival begins on a day called Bhogi Pongal. And Bhogi Pongal celebrates the last day of the Tamil month of Marsala. On the day of Bhogi Pongal people give up old things and celebrate new wealth. On the day of Bhogi Pongal people gather and light a bonfire to burn the cutting ap throat. During the Bhogi Pongal day the houses are cleaned, painted and decorated to give a festive look to this festival.
On the day of Bhogi Pongal, ox and buffalo horns are drawn in the villages. Indra is the god of the day of Bhogi Pongal. And prayers are made to them. On the day of Bhogi Pongal, in a ceremony called Pallu, harvested fruits like reggae pallu and sugarcane are collected along with seasonal flowers. During the day money is often put into a mix of feasts and poured on the children.
3. Kanum Pongal
Sometimes this is called Kanum Pongal on the fourth day of the festival. Kanum Pongal marks the end of the Pongal festival of the year. On the day of Kanum Pongal many families reconcile. Communities organize social events to strengthen mutual bonds during Kaanum Pongal. On the day of Kanum Pongal the youth go around to pay their respects and blessings to the seniors around and bless you.
4. Mattu Pongal
Mattu Pongal is celebrated on the second day of Surya Pongal during the Pongal Festival. Mattu Pongal's Day refers to "cows, cattle, oxen". Mattu Pongal Day is considered by Tamil Hindus as a source of wealth for providing dairy products, fertilizer, transportation and agricultural assistance to cattle.
Cattle are adorned on the day of Mattu Pongal and are sometimes specially fed and worshiped with flower garlands or painted horns. On the day of Mattu Pongal in the cities people visit the nearby temples and the prayer rituals there. On Mattu Pongal day temples and communities hold ceremonies by pairing symbols from the sanctum sanctorum of the temple in wooden chariots.