Pongal Festival » History of Pongal
Since India is mainly a land of agrarian society, the festival of Pongal is observed in different regions, under different names with different rituals in different parts of India.
There are many harvest festivals celebrated here. This festival is celebrated all over India on the same day, but has different names in each region. However, being a harvest festival, bonfires and feasts are the main thing common to all the celebrations of this festival. Following are the various different names and their unique way of celebration of Pongal festival.
Harvest festival is celebrated internationally with their own distinct names and rituals.
Throughout the course of mankind's history, the bountiful harvest has been celebrated with ceremonies of giving thanks. Prior to the establishment of formal religions, many believed that the crops contained spirits which caused the crops to grow and to die. For everyone, a good harvesting season brings with them joy, happiness and contentment.
So cultures all over the world including Japanese, Indians, Romans, Chinese and Korean have special day when all give thanks for a bountiful harvest. The names, rituals and the tradition of these festival may differ in their forms and presentations. But their spirit is same, ie, a day set aside to reflect on nature's blessings. Following are some of the international names of harvest festival, that depict the spectra of celebration as practiced by these different cultures.
Korea - Chu'sok
Usually held in the month of September or October, this Korean harvest festival is marked by the rising of a full "Harvest Moon." Ch'usok is usually described as a kind of Thanksgiving for a good harvest, but it is really an ancient holiday dedicated to the ancestors. Families gather from all over the country and from overseas for the great holiday.
Japan - Tori no Ichi
"Tori-no-ichi" is a festival of Japan held in the month of November. The festival is also called "Otori-sama.". The festival is lively with handclasp and shouts for deals. It starts at midnight with a sound of Japanese dram and continues for 24 hours. The festival becomes livelier as the night goes on. You may not interest in rakes but will enjoy the lively festival of "Tori-no-ishi."
Sri Lanka - Pongal or Ulavar Thirunaal
The rituals of Pongal celebrated in Sri Lanka is almost similar to the Indian Tamils and it refers to boiling rice in a pot for consumption. The sun gives life to the rice. The instruments of this transmutation are the pot and the oxen who assist the farmers in preparing the rice fields and threshing the grains.
United States - Thanksgiving
Thanksgiving is a holiday celebrated in America, generally observed as an expression of gratitude to God. It is an occasion to give thanks to God for the bounty of the autumn harvest. In the United States, the holiday is celebrated on the fourth Thursday in November.
China - August Moon Festival
The August Moon Festival or Mid-Autumn Festival is one of the most celebrated Chinese holidays. It is held on the 15th day of the 8th lunar month. Chinese families celebrate the end of the harvest season with a big feast. Unlike the American Thanksgiving dinner, the Chinese have mooncakes instead of grandma' apple pie. Friends and relatives also send mooncakes to each other as a way of giving thanks.
Vietnam - Tet Trung Thu
Tet Trung Thu is a wonderful, ancient festival of Vietnam that revolves around children. The Festival dates back as far as 15-20,000 years ago in Southeast Asia, and is traditionally held on the 15th day of the 8th Lunar Month. An important to families in Vietnam for many years, originally this Festival came about as a way for parents to make up for lost time with their children after harvest season.
Israel - Succoth
The week long holiday of Succoth begins on the 15th day of the Hebrew month of Tishri. It is usually held in September and October. Succoth occurs at harvest time, and has elements of a harvest festival. Thus, it is also the Jewish Thanksgiving because it is known as the "Festival of the Harvest". Other names of this festival are Sukkot, Festival of the Booths, Jewish Harvest Festival and Feast of Tabernacle.
Africa America - Kwanzaa
Kwanzaa, which means "first fruits of the harvest" in the African language Kiswahili, is a popular harvest festival and has gained tremendous acceptance among the African American people. Since its founding in 1966 by Dr. Maulana Karenga, Kwanzaa has come to be observed by more than18 million people world wide. This festival runs from December 26 to January 1 and over this seven days, people of African descent come together to celebrate family, community, culture and the bonds that tie them together as a people. They also remember their heritage, give thanks for the good things they have and rejoice in the goodness of life.
Africa - Yam Festival
The yam festival marks the end of an abundant food-producing harvest. African people have always had festivals at the time of the harvest. In Ghana the Yam Festival (Homowo) lasts three days. The festival begins with a cleansing ceremony to honor family members who have died. Farmers give thanks to the gods who ensure a good harvest. Twins and triplets are honored during this time as a special gift from God.
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