Pongal Festival » Poki-festival

Poki Festival

Bhogi or the first day of the four-day-long Pongal Festival is also known as Poki Festival by many. On this day people worship Lord Indra - the Hindu mythological God of Rain to express their gratitude for good harvest and rainfall. For this reason, some people also know Poki Festival as Indran. The day of Poki is meant for domestic activities and is to be spent with the family. On this day people spring clean their house and discard unwanted stuff. Traditional Kolam - the intricate pattern is also drawn in the front courtyard to mark the festival.

Mariamman Festival

It may be noted that some scholars believe that Poki has been misinterpreted as Bhogi. They say that at several places Poki is celebrated as Mariamman Festival also. Word 'Mariamman' is said to have been derived from 'mari' that means rain. As rains play a significant part in the life ofa farmer it is only natural that they celebrate the first day of the harvest festival of Pongal in worshipping rain God -Indra. Thus the first day of Pongal came to be known as Mariamman Festival. Besides, Lord Indra is also known as Poki. Hence the first day of Pongal Festival that is spent in worshipping rain is also known as Poki Festival. Poki Festival or Indira Festival is mentioned in 'Cilappatikaram'.

Rituals of Poki Festival

On Poki, farmers perform special puja before cutting of the paddy. They worship sun and earth and anoint ploughs and sickle with sandalwood paste. It is with these sanctified tools that farmers cut the newly harvested rice.

Bonfire is also prepared with wood and cow-dung cakes to mark the Poki Festival. Discarded household articles are thrown in the bonfire and girls dance around it singing songs in praise of Lord Indra. The ritual is known as Bhogi Mantalu and helps people to keep warm in cold winter night.

In the state of Andhra Pradesh, girls celebrate Poki Festival by burning their old clothes and wearing the new ones after an oil massage and bath. This is followed by Pongal Panai. In this new earthenware pots are painted and decorated with turmeric, flowers and mango leaves.

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