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Pongal is a harvest festival celebrated in Tamil Nadu, to offer thanksgiving to the Sun God . The word Ponga, means overflow. This festival signifies abundance and overflowing of the harvest. This also signifies the abundance of wealth and happiness. This is often celebrated as a four day festival, with Bhohi as a day marked to throw the old things away from us. It also signifies the cycle of new beginnings. The day after Pongal is celebrated as Mattu Pongal, specially to offer the tribute for the cattle.
Pongal is a traditional celebration of South India and is associated with the Thanks Giving and a way to pay our Tribute. This is a harvest festival, where people pay their tribute to the Sun God. The prayers are often made for the coming year’s good harvest.
Thai Pongal is one of the very old traditions of Tamil people, and has been celebrated during Medieval Chola period. There are references in our early scriptures about various Kings and Queens celebrating this festival along with their subjects. It is believed that, more than 2000 years, this tradition has been in practice. There is a famous saying in Tail, states that “Thai Pirathal Vazi Pirakkum, which translates to “The month of Thai provides newer opportunities”.
There are great references to Pongal in our ancient scriptures. Once Shiva asked his bull, Nandi, to announce the people on earth to have an oil bath daily and to eat just once a month. Unconsciously, Nandi announced that everyone should eat daily and take oil bath just once a month. After his incident, Nandi was punished by shiva to plough the field and help the people.
There is also another incident connecting to Pongal. When Lord Krishna was a child, he wanted to teach a lesson to Indra, as he became too arrogant after becoming the King of all the Gods. Then, Lord Krishna commanded all the people to stop worshiping Indra. Indra became furious and sent enormous rains to the earth.
Lord Krishna then held the Govardan Hill on his finger, to protect the humans from the heavy rain. After this incident, Indra realized his mistakes and requested Lord Krishna to pardon him. Since then, people started to celebrate this day with great enthusiasm, and believe that Lord Krishna is always with them to protect from all sorts of turmoil in life.
Pongal is one of the greatest celebration for Tamil people. The Bhogi is the festival celebrated just a day before Thai Pongl. People used to discard the waste accumulated, and ensure a new spirited beginning. On the day of Thai Pongal, people offer their produce from the farm as the tribute to the Gods. A special feast is prepared using Rice, Lentils, Ghee, and Jagery. Sugarcane, flowers, fruits are also offered alongside, to appease the Sun God. Mattu Pongal is the day where Jallikattu is performed in some temples. People pray to their cattle and worship them. On the day of Kanum Pongal, sisters make special prayers for their brothers. Thus the four days would be full of fun, prayers, celebration and happiness.