DatesStart Date: 15-01-2020 End Date: 18-01-2020
LocationAndhra Pradesh, Telangana, Tamil Nadu, and Pondicherry
Pongal is the a very popular festival of South India, mainly celebrated in Tamil Nadu. It is also celebrated in the countries consisting of Tamil diaspora such as Sri Lanka, Mauritius, South Africa, Malaysia, Singapore etc Pongal falls during mid-January annually and is known for the beginning of Uttarayan. It’s a 4-day festival and gives the people a chance to thank the nature.
Pongal has a tradition where rice is boiled in a pot till it overflows, this is the exact meaning of Pongal (spilling out).There is drawing of Kolam (which is a rice powder used to make Rangoli, swinging and cooking various delicacies of South.
The day starts with a special puja on the first day of the 4-day festival, before cutting the paddy. Farmers preach the sun and mother Earth by covering their ploughs and sickles with a paste made of sandal wood. These freshly worshipped tools are then used to cut the newly harvested rice.
The first day is BhogiPongal, this is a day for the family.The second day is Surya Pongal, this day is dedicated to worshipping of Lord Surya who is the sun God as the name suggests. Boiled milk and jaggery is brought upon to the Sun God.
The third day of Pongal, Mattu Pongal is for worshipping of Cattle who are called mattu. The bathing of cattles, polishing of their horns and paining them in bright vibrant colours and decorating them with Garlands of flowers around their necks is done by the people.
The fourth day is Kaanum day, it's the last day of Pongal and on this day womenfolk of the household are supposed to perform a special ritual. They start their day by bathing in the morning. Every woman, old or young is supposed to assemble in the courtyard. Then on a turmeric leaf, some rice is placed, and the womenfolk ask their for the prosperity of the house and the family and their brothers. An aarti is performed for the brothers which uses turmeric water, rice and limestone. The same water is sprinkled on the Kolam which is in the front of the house.
The pongal (edible material) which is offered to the Gods is then given to the cattle and birds to eat.
The festival of Pongal is also related to some legends mentioned in our sacred texts. Two of the most popular ones are of Lord Shiva and Lord Indra.
The first one is of Lord Shiva's, where is asked his bull, Basava to go down to the Earth and ask the mortal human beings to have an oil massage and bath every day and eat once a month. Absentmindedly, Basava announced to everyone that, they are to eat daily and get an oil massage once a month. This was a big mistake which angered Lord Shiva and so Basava was banished to live of Earth with the mortal humans forever. And he was supposed to plough the fields and help produce more food for the people, also helping them in farming. That's why Cattle is so very important for Pongal.
The next legend is of Lord Krishna and Lord Indra. When Lord Krishna in his childhood wanted to teach Lord Indra a lesson and told all the cowherd's to stop worshipping Lord Indra. Lord Indra got infuriated and sent his clouds which caused a heavy thunder storm for 3 continuous days it rained. But Lord Krishna lifted the Govardhan Mount and saved all the humankind. Lord Indra realised his mistake and the divinity of Lord Krishna.
Madurai with its many temples, fields and villages displays the true essence of Pongal festivities. Temples carry out special rituals on all four days of Pongal and visiting the temple of South India during this time is an unforgettable experience despite the crowds. The farmers and their families display a portion of their harvest to the Sun God and dishes are prepared from this harvest and offered to the almighty. Sugarcane, mango leaves, rice flour patterns and flowers decorate homes. Clay pots are used to cook Pongal and the festival is celebrated with much pomp and glory. The excitement and joy is surely infectious! The controversial sport of Jallikattu was also conducted as part of the Pongal festivities in Madurai.
Is it the simple people, the ancient temples, the lush green fields or the mouth-watering food? What is it exactly that makes Thanjavur so special? Well, you have to travel here to discover the answers and they may be more than one! the place turns into a vibrant region during the festival times with decorated homes, kolams (patterns drawn out with rice flour are by themselves a competition among the neighbourhood women). Brihadeeshwara Temple's celebration of MattuPongal as many cows are lined up by the owners for puja at the temple shouldn't be missed.
It is a popular textile city in Tamil Nadu. As it is a city, you wouldn't expect people to be engaged on an activity related to the agrarian sector. But Pongal is one exception. The homes are cleaned and decorated with mango leaves. Houses are painted, kolams are drawn and you can see pandals all over the city. It is also a great time to shop and sales and discounts are high at this time. The atmosphere of the crowd is generally joyous and festive, much like how we see New Delhi during Diwali.
Pongal celebrations showcase the best aspects of the culture and traditions of Southern India to the entire world, making it the best occasion to visit the region and soak in the warmth of the festivities.
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