What is Pongal?

Pongal is a South Indian festival celebrated mainly in Tamil Nadu, Andhra Pradesh and Telangana. Moreover, this festival is called Pongal or Uttarayan Punyakalam, which means boiling or overflowing. So, the four-day Pongal festival meaning marks the beginning of the spring season. On this festival, all the gods associated with the good harvesting of crops, such as Surya and Indra, are worshipped. However, while Pongal is celebrated in the Southern part of India, the people of Northern India celebrate Makar Sankranti.

Furthermore, the festival of Pongal is celebrated in the month of Tai (solar equinox) according to the Tamil calendar. Also, this festival is celebrated because the people of Tamil believe that during this festival, the journey of the Sun starts Northward. Moreover, the 4 days of Pongal are celebrated from 15th January to 18th January every year. During this festival, people welcome new beginnings by burning away all their old belongings.

What is the story behind Pongal?

According to Hindu tradition, the Pongal story revolves around the concern of Lord Shiva for his devotees. Lord Shiva noticed that the people on Earth were very carefree about their eating habits. So, Lord Shiva sent his bull, Nandi, to Earth as a messenger for all his devotees, saying that his devotees should take an oil bath every day and eat delicious and nutritious meals. Nandi became very confused and delivered the message saying that the devotees should eat simple meals and take oil baths once a month.

On hearing that, Lord Shiva got furious and sent Nandi back to Earth. So, to ask forgiveness, people started celebrating Pongal, where devotees would cook tasty meals such as Pongalmade of rice, milk and jaggery. The rice they eat on the day of Pongal is from the newly harvested crops, and would thank Lord Shiva on this day. So, the celebration of Pongal reminds the devotees about the concern of Lord Shiva and his forgiveness. On this day, all the relatives and friends gather together to cook and celebrate the festival of Pongal.

What is the Significance of Pongal?

The festival of Pongal holds great significance in the hearts of South Indian people. This festival is mainly celebrated in South India because this region of India has great agricultural and economic significance. Moreover, this festival is also celebrated to honour the Sun God for a wonderful harvest. On this day, people decorate their homes and wear new clothes to mark the beginning of the Thai month. All the relatives and family members come together to thank the deities and farmers who have been a part of yielding or harvesting crops so that they can consume good foods.

Furthermore, on this day, the special dish prepared as a thanksgiving is offered to God and then consumed by the family members. Moreover, other than Pongal dishes, Tamil families prepare Payasam, sugarcane Pongal, ven Pongal, Medu Vada, Tamarind Rice, Lemon rice, coconut rice, curd rice and Idli Sambhar. Moreover, people beautifully decorate their homes with Kolams, which are colourful rice powders.

What are the Rituals and Remedies involved in Pongal?

The four-day celebration of Pongal has its own significance. Each day holds equal importance, and there are certain rituals and remedies to be followed on all four days. So read below to know everything about the importance of Pongal in Tamil culture.

Pongal Rituals

  • The first day is called the Bhogi Pongal, which marks the beginning of the Pongal festival. On the first day, people decorate their homes with Rangoli, known as Kolams and clean their homes. The first day is dedicated to Lord Indra for saving their crops from being damaged by the droughts.
  • The second day is dedicated to Surya God, where the devotees come together to worship Lord Surya. On this day, fresh milk is boiled until it touches the tip of the vessel. So this is how the celebration of Pongal begins. After the Prasad, made out of milk, rice and jaggery, is prepared, it is first offered to Lord Surya.
  • The third day of Pongal, known as the Mattu Pongal, is dedicated to Cows and oxen because the successful harvesting of crops is only possible because of them. On this day, the homes of cows and oxen are properly cleaned, decorated and offered with freshly made Pongal after offering to God. Bullfights are also organised in some regions of Tamil Nadu known as the Jallikattu.
  • Kaanum Pongal is also traditionally referred to as Karinaal in Tamil Nadu. This is the last day of the Pongal festival, where Sarkarai Pongal is offered to Sun God. People visit their near and dear ones to celebrate the joy of sweetness by exchanging sugar canes and offerings to Gods. People also perform a traditional Tamil dance known as Kali Attam.

Pongal Remedies

  • During the Pongal festival, Koorai Poo is kept at the house's entrance so that evil is avoided, and the festival is celebrated with great devotion and fun.
  • The festival of Pongal brings a new beginning for South Indians, so they tend to change all their house and kitchen items, such as utensils, crockery and appliances.
  • As the festival of Pongal arrives, people decorate their homes with sugarcane branches, believed to bring sweetness and good fortune to their homes.
  • Throughout the Pongal festival and as the celebration is not over, people eat their food in banana leaves, which is believed to be very encouraging.

Conclusion

Concluding, this is all about the Pongal festival that we could cover on this page. We have mentioned the significance, rituals, and history of Pongal Festival. People unaware of the celebration and festival of Pongal, make sure to read about it so that you are well informed about it.

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Frequently Asked Questions

Pongal is celebrated to honour respect and gratitude for the hard work of farmers who have harvested crops. Moreover, during the festival of Pongal, people also worship Surya Dev and Indra Dev for the bountiful harvest of crops.
Pongal is mainly celebrated in the Southern states of Tamil Nadu, Andhra Pradesh, Karnataka and Puducherry.
The first day of Pongal is referred to as Bhogi Pongal, which marks the beginning of the four-day Pongal celebration.
The people of South India widely celebrate the Pongal festival. It is celebrated with great joy and enthusiasm. People decorate their homes and cook meals to offer deities. Moreover, the cooking of the Pongal dish is the main part of the Pongal celebration.
The celebration of the Pongal Festival reminds us about the new beginning. It's believed that during this festival, deities are awake, and thus, people wait for the festival of Pongal so that they can start their new startups and projects to bring positive changes.
In Kerala, the festival of Pongal is referred to as Attukal Pongala. During this festival, the people of Kerala prepare a dish called Payasam, made of Rice, jaggery, coconut, banana and dry fruits.
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