Pongal 2017: Tamil Harvest Festivals, Customs, Traditions, Significance, and Dates

The harvest competition of Pongal is without doubt one of the most important Hindu festivals which are celebrated by Indians the world over. Particularly in South India, this four-day competition is well known within the month of Thai, which is when crops like rice are harvested and other people present their gratitude for the bountiful. Also called Thai Pongal, this 12 months the competition falls on January 14. Individuals start the festivities by boiling the harvested rice and providing it to the Solar God, as a logo of thanksgiving. The celebrations start on the final day of the Tamil Maargazhi month to the third day of the Thai month. Pongal means “overflow” or “boiling over” and likewise denotes the gradual and gradual heating of the earth by the solar.

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Customs and traditions

Throughout Pongal celebrations, Tamilians throughout India and the world make kolams or conventional designs of their houses utilizing colored powders, rice powder or white stone powder. The kolams are drawn to welcome Lakshmi, the goddess of wealth, prosperity and happiness into the homes. Following which, they put together a sweetened dish utilizing rice, jaggery and lentils as part of the customary celebrations at the present time. Individuals supply worship and part of their first harvest to the Solar God. Individuals additionally desire to get married on this auspicious month.

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Pongal is well known on the final day of the Tamil Maargazhi month and is believed to be the harbinger of fine luck, bountiful harvest and prosperity. The celebrations begin on January 14 this 12 months and can go on for 4 days. Every of the 4 Pongal days has its personal significance.

Bhogi Pongal
The primary day marking the beginning of celebrations is devoted to Indra god. Individuals p[repare offerings for Him and a huge bonfire is lit and kept burning throughout the night. ‘Bhogi Kottus’ or buffalo-skin drums are beaten as people revel in traditional folk songs and dances. Houses are decorated with kolams and cow-dung balls with yellow pumpkin flowers set on them.

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Surya Pongal
The second day of the festivities is dedicated to the Sun god. A special harvest dish made of rice, jaggery, turmeric and lentils are made and brought to boil till it spills over, in mud pots. With sugarcane sticks, this special dish called ‘Sakkarai pongal’ is offered to the sun. It is believed that Lord Sundareshwar breathed life into a stone elephant in the temple of Madurai on this day.

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Mattu Pongal
The third day of the festival is to worship and show gratitude for the cattle stock. Colourful flower garlands and bells are tied around the necks of cows, before they start performing the puja. On this day, cattle race or jallikattu is commonly practised. It has however come under the scanner on grounds of animal cruelty.

Kaanum Pongal
‘Kaanum’ means to visit. On this day, people hold grand unions ad get-togethers. Brothers convey their respects and tributes to their married-off sisters. Landlords offer gifts, money and clothes to their tenants. People everywhere visit their near and close ones to spend time and celebrate the festival together.

Legends and mythology

Pongal is believed to be the only Hindu festival that follows a solar calendar. The festival solemnises the Uttarayana or the commencement of the Sun’s six-month journey towards the north. The festival marks the end of the winters and the start of the spring. It is believed that this is when the deities woke up after a six-month sleep and men who expired during this six-month period achieved mukti or moksha.

According to one of the popular legends, Shiva god asked his bull Basava to go to the earth and tell the men of the earth to take an oil bath every day and have food once a month — for six months. But in his carelessness, Basava conveyed the message that all should eat daily and take an oil bath once every month. Infuriated, Shiva punished the bull by cursing him to assist humans in ploughing the fields. This is why cattle stock is worshipped and tamed in the popular sport Jallikattu. Another legend goes that Krishna asked the cowherds to not worship Indra god, in order to teach him a lesson. Indra’s arrogance had risen after he was made the king of all deities. In his anger, he made the clouds bring thunderstorms and rains for three days, but Krishna protected the people by lifting the Govardhan mountain. This made Indra god realise his mistake and Krishna god’s power.

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