For the dish, see Pongal (dish).
|Observed by||Ethnic Tamils, most notably; Malaysian Indians|
Sri Lankan Tamils
Indian South Africans
Harvest festival. Thanking the Hindu Sun God for agricultural abundance4 days long
|Celebrations||Presenting Pongal to Sun God, Temple Prayers and sharing Pongal dish.|
|Date||First day of the tenth month of Thai in the Tamil calendar|
|2017 date||14 January|
|Related to||Makar Sankranti(in Andhra Pradesh, West Bengal, Kerala, Bihar, Goa, Karnataka, Orissa, Madhya Pradesh, Maharashtra, Manipur, Telangana, Uttar Pradesh in India)|
Magh Bihu(in Assam, India)
Uttarayana(in Gujurat and Rajasthan in India)
Maghi(in Haryana, Himachal Pradesh and Punjab in India)
Maghe Sankranti(in Nepal)
Thai Pongal (Tamil: தைப்பொங்கல், )is a harvest festival dedicated to the Sun God. It is a four-day festival which according to the Tamil calendar is usually celebrated from January 14 to January 17..
Thai Pongal is one of the most important festivals celebrated by Tamil people in the Indian state of Tamil Nadu, the Indian Union Territory of Puducherry, and the country of Sri Lanka, as well as Tamils worldwide, including those in Malaysia,Mauritius, South Africa, United States, Singapore, Canada and UK. Thai Pongal corresponds to Makara Sankranthi, the harvest festival celebrated throughout India.
The day marks the start of the sun's six-month-long journey northwards (the Uttaraayanam). This also corresponds to the Indic solstice when the sun purportedly enters the 10th house of the Indian zodiac Makara or Capricorn. Thai Pongal is mainly celebrated to convey appreciation to the Sun God for a successful harvest. Part of the celebration is the boiling of the first rice of the season consecrated to the Sun - the Surya Maangalyam.
The origins of the Thai Pongal festival may date to more than 1000 years ago.Epigraphic evidence suggests the celebration of the Puthiyeedu during the Medieval Cholaempire days. Puthiyeedu is believed to represent the first harvest of the year. Tamil people refer to Pongal as "Tamizhar Thirunaal," the festival of Tamizhs. Thai Pongal, also referred to as Makara Sankranti, is referred to in the classic work of Hindu astrology, the Surya Siddhanta.
Thai refers to the name of the tenth month in the Tamil calendar, Thai (தை). Pongal usually means festivity or celebration; more specifically Pongal is translated as "boiling over" or "overflow." Pongal is also the name of a sweetened dish of rice boiled with lentils that is ritually consumed on this day. Symbolically, pongal signifies the gradual heating of the earth as the Sun travels northward toward the equinox.
This day coincides with Makara Sankranthi which is celebrated throughout India, Nepal and Bangladesh.
|Thai Pongal||Tamil Nadu|
|Makara Sankranthi||Andhra Pradesh, Bengal, Bihar, Goa, Karnataka, Kerala, Orissa, Madhya Pradesh, Maharashtra, Manipur, Telangana Uttar Pradesh|
|Uttarayana||Gujarat and Rajasthan|
|Maghi||Haryana, Himachal Pradesh and Punjab|
|Magh Bihu/Bhogali Bihu||Assam|
|Maghe SankrantiorMakar Sankranti||Nepal|
Main article: Pongal (dish)
Besides rice and milk the ingredients of this sweet dish include cardamom, raisins, Green gram (split), and cashew nuts. Cooking is done in sunlight, usually in a porch or courtyard, as the dish is dedicated to the Sun god, Surya. The cooking is done in a clay pot that is decorated with coloured patterns called kolam. Pongal has two variants, one sweet and one savoury. The dish is served on banana leaves.
Cooking pongal is a traditional practice at Hindu temples during any part of the Temple Festival in Tamil Nadu.
Days of the festival
The day preceding Pongal is called Bhogi. On this day people discard old belongings and celebrate new possessions. The disposal of worn-out items is similar to the traditions of Holika in North India. The people assemble at dawn in Tamil Nadu to light a bonfire in order to burn the discards. Houses are cleaned, painted and decorated to give a festive look. The horns of oxen and buffaloes are painted in villages. In Tamil Nadu farmers keep medicinal herb (neem, avram, sankranti) in northeast corner of each fields, to prevent crops from diseases and pests.
Bhogi is also observed on the same day in Andhra Pradesh. In the ceremony called Bhogi Pallu, fruits of the harvest such as regi pallu and sugar cane are collected along with flowers of the season. Money is often placed into a mixture of treats and is poured over children. The children then separate and collect the money and sweet fruits.
This day is celebrated in Punjab as Lohri and in Assam as Magh Bihu / Bhogali Bihu.
The main event, also known as Thai Pongal, takes place on the second of the four days. This day coincides with Makara Sankranthi, a winter harvest festival celebrated throughout India. The day marks the start of the Uttarayana, the day of the Indic solstice when the sun purportedly enters the 10th house of the Indian zodiac i.e. Makara or Capricorn.
In the Tamil language the word Pongal means "overflowing," signifying abundance and prosperity.
During the festival, milk is cooked in a vessel. When it starts to bubble and overflows out of the vessel, freshly harvested rice grains are added to the pot. At the same time other participants blow a conch called the sanggu and shout "Pongalo Pongal!" They also recite "Thai Pirandhal Vazhi Pirakkum" ("the commencement of Thai paves the way for new opportunities"). This is repeated frequently during the Pongal festival. The Pongal is then served to everyone in the house along with savories and sweets such as vadai, murukku, paayasam.
Tamilians decorate their homes with banana and mango leaves and embellish the floor with decorative patterns drawn using rice flour.kolams/rangolis are drawn on doorsteps. Family elders present gifts to the young.
The Sun stands for "Pratyaksha Brahman" - the manifest God, who symbolizes the one, non-dual, self-effulgent, glorious divinity blessing one and all tirelessly. The Sun is the one who transcends time and also the one who rotates the proverbial wheel of time.
Maatu Pongal is celebrated the day after Thai Pongal. Tamils regard cattle as sources of wealth for providing dairy products, fertilizer, and labor for plowing and transportation. On Maatu Pongal, cattle are recognized and afforded affectionately. Features of the day include games such as the Jallikkattu and taming bull.
Kanu Pidi is a tradition for women and young girls. During Kanu Pidi women feed birds and pray for their brothers' well being. As part of the "Kaka pidi, Kanu pidi" feast women and girls place a feast of colored rice, cooked vegetables, banana and sweet pongal on ginger or turmeric leaves for crows to share and enjoy. During this time women offer prayers in the hope that brother-sister ties remain forever strong as they do in a crow family.
On this day celebrants bathe and decorate their cattle with garlands. Cows are decorated with manjalthanni (turmeric water) and oil. Shikakai apply kungumam (kumkum) to their foreheads, paint their horns, and feed them a mixture of venn pongal, jaggery, honey, banana and other fruits. In the evening people pray to Lord Ganesh. One ritual is to light a torch of coconut leaves and carry it around cattle three times and then run to the border of the village to drop it. This is believed to remove the evil influences caused by the jealousy of other people over the cattle.
Kaanum Pongal (Kanni Pongal)
Kaanum Pongal, the fourth day of the festival, marks the end of Pongal festivities for the year. The word kaanum in this context means "to visit." Many families hold reunions on this day. Brothers pay special tribute to their married sisters by giving gifts as affirmation of their filial love. Landlords present gifts of food, clothes and money to their tenants. Villagers visit relatives and friends while in the cities people flock to beaches and theme parks with their families. Celebrants chew sugar cane and again decorate their houses with kolam. Relatives and friends receive thanks for their assistance supporting the harvest.
In Andhra Pradesh, Mukkanuma, the final day of Sankranthi festival, is celebrated by worshiping cattle. Mukkanuma is famous among non-vegetarians. People do not eat non-vegetarian dishes during the first three days of the festival, saving them for the day of Mukkanuma.
In 2017, Delegate David Bulova introduced a joint resolution HJ573 in the Virginia House of Delegates to designate January 14 of each year as Pongal Day.
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Kolam drawn in front of houses
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Pongal Festival :
- Pongal is the harvest festival of Tamil Nadu
- It is celebrated in the mid of January every year.
- Pongal Celebrations lasts for 4 days
- Pongal is considered the beginning of Uttarayan
- People wear new clothes and pray God to shower his blessings on this day
Pongal Festival : (Short Essay)
Pongal is one of the most popular and much celebrated festival of Tamil Nadu. Pongal Festival is the harvest festival of South India. The celebration lasts for 4 days and it falls in the mid of January every year. Pongal is the main dish that is prepared and served to God on this day. The 4 days of Celebration are: Bhogi, Pongal, Maatu Pongal and Kaanum Pongal. Pongal day, is celebrated by boiling fresh milk early in the morning and allowing it to boil over the Kaanum Pongal. Women at home clean and decorate their houses well ahead of the celebrations. People wear their new and traditional dresses and decorate the vessel they are going to prepare Pongal in. Sugar Cane is the real treat during Pongal and people enjoy eating it after praying to God.
Pongal Festival : (Brief Essay)
Pongal is the harvest festival of Tamil Nadu, also a great festival of South India. The festival is celebrated as a Thanks Giving ceremony to God. As we all know, for any farmer Harvesting is the biggest part of all his hard work. He toils all the year with his cattle, working day and night depending on rain and Sun. So, as a note of thanks to God for helping him throughout, Pongal is celebrated in mid of January every year.
Pongal is believed to be the beginning of Uttarayan – the beginning of Sun’s long journey northwards. People believe with this celebration, God shall give them peace, happiness, prosperity, brightness and harmony in life. On these 4 days, families gather and share their joy.
The 4 days of Pongal celebrations are named as:
- Bhogi Pongal: The houses are cleaned getting rid of old things and decorations take place
- Surya Pongal: This is the first day of the Tamil Month – Thai. This day is also known as Thai Pongal. People offere Pongal to the Sun God
- Mattu Pongal: On this day, the farmer expresses his happiness of a fresh harvest. The happiness is shared in the form of food and sweets
- Kaanum Pongal: This day is more like Raksha Bandhan. Brother pay tribute to their sisters and families get together on this day
The houses are cleaned, painted and decorated before the celebrations start. People wear new dresses on these days and they believe it is time to forget everything and simply rejoice. Many people visit their natives since it is a long and most celebrated festival in South India.
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