Pongal festival is considered as a harvest festival of South India. Pongal is the only festival of Hindu that follows a solar calendar and is celebrated on the 14th of January every year. Pongal Festival has astronomical significance; it marks the beginning of Uttarayana, the Sun’s movement northward for a six-month period. In Hinduism, Uttarayana is considered auspicious, as opposed to Dakshinaayana, or the southern movement of the sun. All-important events are scheduled during this period. Makara Sankranthi refers to the event of the Sun entering the zodiac sign of Makara or Capricorn.
Pongal Festival is celebrated from January 13 to 16 every year. The festival marks a period of plenty, peace and happiness. While each of its days has a special religious significance, most urban people celebrate second day as the main festival. Pongal Festival is the only festival of Hindu that follows a solar calendar. On the first day known as Bhogi, people clean their homes thoroughly and in the evening, all unwanted goods are lit in a bonfire. The second day is Perum Pongal, the most important. It is also called Surya Pongal because people worship Surya, the Sun God and his consorts, Chaya and Samgnya. Women decorate the central courtyard of their homes with beautiful kolams, done with rice flour and bordered with red clay. The third day, Mattu Pongal, is meant to offer thanks to the cows and buffaloes, as they are used to plough the lands. Jallikattu, a violent taming the bull contest, marks this day. On the last day, Kanum Pongal, people go out to picnic. During the Pongal season, people eat sugar canes and decorate the houses with Kolam.
Pongal Festival is mainly associated with the rural people. People wish each other on this day.Pongal Festival wishes are exchanged between family and friends, and there are celebrations within the family. As one stand on the threshold of the harvest season, everyone exchange Pongal wishes, hoping that it brings the harbinger of good luck, good fortune and good cheer. The festival of Pongal is held dear particularly by the farming community as it marks the end of harvesting season.
Pongal Festival is a four-days-long harvest festival celebrated in Tamil Nadu, a southern state of India. For as long as people have been planting and gathering food, there has been some form of harvest festival. Pongal Festival is one of the most important popular Hindu festivals of the year.
The harvest festival, Pongal, falls typically on the 14th or the 15th of January and is the classic ‘Tamil 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.
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 Uttarayanam, 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.
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 affection. Features of the day include games such as the Jallikkattu and taming wild bull.
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.