People can clearly see the activities related to Pongal celebration, once the chill in the air heralds the festive occasion of Pongal. The festival is celebrated on January 14 th every year and is also one of the longest celebrations in the Tamil calendar, spread over four days. As part of age-old belief and in the hope that the month of `Thai' will usher in good fortunes, people go agog with joy.
The festival of Pongal is held dear particularly by the farming community as it marks the end of harvesting season. The markets start receiving stacks of sugarcanes, turmeric saplings and a horde of farm produces. The run-up to Pongal is as exciting as celebrating the occasion that is believed to ring in prosperity.
Pongal is also celebrated as a thanksgiving festival for various Hindu deities. The festivities begin with `Bhogi' and the first day is considered to be a prelude to the celebrations that follow. `Bhogi' is observed as a thanksgiving occasion to Lord `Indra', the God of Heavens. The next day is the `Pongal' day, which is celebrated to pay respects to `Surya', the Sun God. It is the day of a new beginning and makes people go for joyful celebrations. As a mark of respect to the cattle, the farmer's best friends, the third day of Pongal festival is celebrated as `Maattu Pongal'. `Kaanum Pongal' marks the end of the four-day celebrations.
People generally go for sightseeing, shopping and exchanging pleasantries with relatives and friends. The farmers, during this point of time, are generally flushed with money having sold their produce. On all the four days during Pongal festival, people make it a point to visit temples and invoke the blessings of the God for a good and prosperous beginning to the year.
In the midst of all the cheer and celebration, the cynosure of all eyes is the traditional sport of valour -- the `jallikattu' (bull-fight). The valor of the youth goes on test at the `jallikattu'. The objective of the sport is to wrest the bounty, which is put in a cloth and tied to the horns of the bulls. Unlike in Spain the matador here does not kill the bull. In the past, the valiant youth were chosen as grooms for village damsels. With all its unique features and many hued celebrations, Pongal brings lots of happiness and joy in the family.