How is the Four Day long Festival of Pongal Celebrated?
Pongal is celebrated in the Tamil Nadu which is located in the Southern part of India! It is not a celebration of a single day and is celebrated in a time span of four days. For the Hindu community, Pongal has been considered as one of the most important festivals of the year. Its significance lies in the fact that, it is celebrated to say thanks to God and the creator of the nature for the flourishing season of harvest. The name Pongal has been derived from the Tamil word “to boil”. It is held in the Thai month, which falls from January to February. During this season various cereals, rice, sugar-cane turmeric and many other cooking essentials of Tamil Nadu are harvested.
In Tamil calendar, middle of the month of January is considered to be an important time of the year. This quintessential festival of Tamil Nadu is celebrated typically on 14th or 15th of January. This is the festival of offering gratification to God, for providing the man kind with the seasonal cycle, which helps in harvesting of grains properly. Tamilians believe that on this day by saying ‘pirandhaal vazhi pirakkum' all the problems of the family will be vanished. Traditionally this month is also considered as the month when most weddings take place. This tradition can be argued on the ground that the wealth that people gain by harvesting is used for organizing wedding, especially in those families which have a close connection with agriculture.
Let’s get a little deeper into how these four days of the Pongal celebration in the state of Tamil Nadu takes place:
Day 1: People celebrate the first day of Pongal as Bhogi festival to show gratitude to Lord Indra who is considered to be the ruler of the sky and clouds and is responsible for showering us with rain. Lord Indra is honoured for bringing on the earth prosperity and plenty by abundantly providing this season of harvest. Another part of the celebration of this day is throwing out of the old useless articles of household in fire of cow-dung and wood. The female members of the family sing and dance around the bonfire showing their gratefulness to the God of this harvest season. The bonfire is a means of burning the waste obtained through the agriculture and also to keep people warm in the last days of the winter.
Day 2: on this day the ceremonial worship or Puja is performed around the households. In the courtyard of the house rice is cooked with milk which is considered as a pious way of offering respect to the God Sun.
Day 3: This day is called as Mattu Pongal and is celebrated as a day for cows. Cattles are worshipped by tying around their neck colourful beads, sheaves of corns, garland of flowers and tinkling bells. People feed them with Pongal and take them to the village centre.
Day 4: This last and the fourth day of the celebration of this harvest season, is called as Kannum Pongal or Kanau. Women on this day wash off a turmeric leaf and place it on the ground. Then the leftover of the pongal, rice, betel leaves, turmeric leaves, and two pieces of sugar cane are placed on the leaf. Women perform Arati for their brothers with limestone, turmeric oil and rice.