India is a land whose primary occupation is agriculture. Changes in season thus play a very important role for Indian farmers. Their lifestyles and celebrations are thus exclusively linked to the seasonal landmarks in a year. There are many Indian festivals which are in tune with a farmers lifestyle and also with the seasonal variations in an year. Pongal, the harvest festival of the southern Indian state of Tamil Nadu is one of them. It isn’t a celebration of a single day and is celebrated in a time span of four days. The first days of the festival is called as Bhogi which marks the beginning of a new cycle and during this day people throw their old household’s items and bring in home, new items in their households. The second day called as Perum also referred to as Surya Pongal is the most significant days of the Pongal celebration and on this people pay respect to God Sun by offering prayers. On the zest of this day people also wear novel clothes and women of the household embellish their home by making kolam(rangoli)designs with the help of red clay and rice flour. On the third day of the festival, Mattu Pongal, people worship cattle as they are believe to bring good harvest. Finally on the last day, the fourth day of the celebration which is called as Kanum Pongal, people go for picnic and try spending time with family and friends.
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.
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.
Wishing you all a very happy Pongal!