Pongal is the harvest festival, so that needs no explanation. It is celebrated for 4 days in South India. In North India, it is celebrated as Lohri. The festivities in South India is spread across 4 days, each day for a different reason. To those of you who know very little about this festival, here is a piece of enlightenment!
The festival of Pongal
Pongal is celebrated in the month of Thai (that is, the January-February season) when crops like rice, sugarcane, turmeric, etc. are ready for harvest.
The term ‘Pongal’ in Tamil means ‘to overflow,’ and it is a festival celebrated to thank the nature for the harvest. The harvested rice and lentils are brought to a boil along with jaggery and milk and made to overflow as a mark of abundance. This dish is also called Pongal.
Day 1 — Bhogi
Bhogi is the festival celebrated to thank Lord Indra, the god of rain, and the King of the Devas (celestial beings). During this festival, old and overused items which can be of no use for anything are thrown into a bonfire. This is done to emphasize that human beings should get rid of useless thoughts of the past and prepare for a new beginning.
Day 2 — Thai Pongal
This is the main day of the Pongal festival when the Sun God is thanked for enabling the harvest. This is the day when the sweet dish Pongal is made and made to overflow. It is offered to the Sun God. Along with this, sugarcane, betel leaves, coconuts, and bananas are also offered.
Day 3 — Mattu Pongal
The festival of Mattu Pongal is a day celebrated to honor the cattle that help in the processing of farm and provide milk. Also, according to Hinduism, a million Gods reside in a cow. Hence, they are decorated on this day with colors, tassels, and bells and worshipped.
There is also a legend that says Lord Shiva cursed Nandi to reside on earth and plow fields as a punishment for conveying a message by Shiva wrongly to the mortals on earth. This is also linked to the festival of Mattu Pongal.
Day 4 — Kaanum Pongal
The word Kaanum means ‘to meet,’ and that conveys everything about the festival. It is celebrated to have a get-together with near and dear. Also, leftover food from the previous day is laid on a turmeric leaves by the women on the terrace, praying to the Sun for the well-being of the brothers.
Enjoy the harvest festival to the fullest and prepare for new beginnings in life!