What is Kaanum Pongal?
Pongal is an important South Indian festival and Kaanum Pongal is the fourth and the final day of Pongal celebrations. ‘Kaanum’ means ‘to visit’ in Tamil, and this day is observed on the third day of the Tamil month of Thai (January–February). The day is also known as ‘Thiruvalluvar day’ commemorating the birth of the great Tamil poet and philosopher — Thiruvalluvar. Kaanum Pongal is the day of merry making and socializing with friends and relatives.
Significance of Kaanum Pongal
Kaanum Pongal is the last day of the Pongal celebrations. As the name of the day indicates, people visit their friends and relatives on this day and engage in reunions. They also exchange gifts and money as a token of love and affection. As this is the day of merry making and socializing, public places like beaches, parks, theatres etc. are overcrowded on this day. In Tamil Nadu, this day is also called as Kanya (virgin) Pongal, as young, unmarried girls relish the day with gaiety.
Celebrations and Rituals of Kaanum Pongal
- On the day of Kaanum Pongal, houses are cleaned and kolams or patterns are drawn in the front yard. Special Pooja and Sakarai Pongal (sweet dish) are offered to Lord Surya (Sun)
- Visiting the banks of River Kaveri is one of the most famous traditions followed on the day. Friends and families celebrate this event cheerfully, similar to the festivals of ‘Bhai Dhuj’ or ‘Raksha Bandhan’. People visit the river banks and enjoy a tasty, scrumptious meal. In some regions, special Poojas and prayers are offered to River Kaveri
- Kaanum Pongal is the day when sisters pray for the welfare of their brothers by feeding rice to birds. Sisters also visit their brothers on this day, and brothers give gifts to their married sisters
- People visit each other’s houses and socialize with strangers as well. It is the perfect day to start new relationships and talk about marriage proposals
- ‘Kummi Paatu’ is another famous ritual followed on this day, mainly in the rural areas of Tamil Nadu. It is believed to initiate marriage for young girls whose weddings are delayed due to some reasons. The unmarried girl is made to sit at the center and women circle around her singing and dancing to the folk tunes of Kummi Paatu
- The day is celebrated as Mukkanuma in Andhra Pradesh, where cattle are worshipped with great fervor and devotion