Pongal is the festival of happiness and wealth. It is mostly known as farmer’s festival. People celebrate this festival in South India.
The offerings made on the day of the Pongal festival to the Lord Sun God are called Pongal, hence the name Pongal. The celebration of Pongal made in Tamil Nadu is within the enjoyment of harvesting crops. Especially, it is a harvest festival.
This festival is a four-day-long festival. All these four days are dedicated to the people who are related to agriculture
People celebrate this within the center of January. They celebrate this festival because of their good harvest. Four days have different importance during this festival.
‘Pongal’, is the only Hindu festival that follows the solar calendar and is celebrated on 14th January of every year. The astronomical significance of ‘Pongal’ is the beginning of ‘Uttarayana’ when the sun moves northwards for six months.
In Hinduism, ‘Uttarayana’ is believed as the most auspicious, as opposed to ‘Dakshinaayana’ when the sun moves southwards. All crucial events are scheduled during ‘Uttarayana’. ‘Makara Sankranthi’ is an event celebrated when the Sun enters the zodiac sign of ‘Makara’ or Capricorn.
‘Pongal’ word means the end of traditional farming season, so all farmers take a break from their daily routine and celebrate this festival. They perform puja with all their hearts to some crops as a sign of ending the traditional farming season. Also, this gives moments for a series of festivals celebrated in a calendar year. There are four festivals celebrated in Tamil Nadu for four consecutive days in that week. ‘Bogi’ on 13th January, ‘Pongal’ on 14th January, ‘Maattup Pongal’ on 15th January, and ‘Thiruvalluvar Day’ on 16th January
History of Pongal festival
The history of this spiritual festival started back in the Sangam age, i.e., 200 BC to 300 AD. Although, Pongal was believed to be originated as a Dravidian Harvest festival and has an important mention in Sanskrit Puranas, historians have identified this festival with the Thai Un and Thai Niradal which are to be believed to have been celebrated during the Sangam Age, as per the Pongal festival portal.
Celebrations of Pongal festival
The most spiritual festival of Pongal is celebrated not only for one day, but four days. This festival is considered to be one of the year-round festivals of Hinduism. The importance of this festival implies that on this day, God is thanked for the harvest season for the farmers.
The word Pongal is derived from the Tamil word meaning boiling. The festival is celebrated between January to February. In this season, different types of crops are produced, such as rice, sugarcane, turmeric, etc.
However, apart from these crops, the crops that are essential for cooking in Tamil Nadu are harvested. According to the Tamilian calendar, the time between January is the most important and special month for Pongal.
This most spiritual festival of Tamil Nadu is celebrated on 14–15 January. This festival is an offering to satisfy humankind properly with the seasonal cycle. This important tradition is for organizing agriculture for everyone who is directly or indirectly related to agriculture.
Four Days Celebration of Pongal Festival
Pongal is a festival of four days. These four days of the Pongal festival are very important. The first day is called Bongi Pongal; the second day is famously known as Surya Pongal; the third day is called Mattu Pongal and the fourth and final day is called Kaanum Pongal.
The First day of Pongal
The first day of Pongal is usually called Bhogi Pongal. On the first day, people make use of and apply Kumkum and swastika on all the pottery in their homes. On this spiritual day, cleaning is done in every corner and part of the house. The most supreme Lord, Lord Indra is worshiped on the first day of the Pongal festival the reason is – Lord Indra is famously known as the ruler of the clouds and the only showers.
It is most vital to have rain if one needs a good crop. Lord Indra is worshiped and given tribute to the rain and abundance of the plant. This day is a ritual and celebration which is also known as Bhogi mantalu. Because of a good crop, the farmers happily worship Lord Indra and thank him.
They pray to God to keep his blessings on him so that the prosperity of wealth and happiness remains in his home and country. On this day, all the waste of the house is burnt with cow’s dung and wood. Girls and women dance around this fire and sing songs to God.
The Second Day of Pongal
The second day of Pongal is Surya Pongal. On the second day of Surya Pongal, the most important member of the house makes Pongal for the worship of Sun God. Pooja or true worship is performed on the second day when Pongal is offered to the Sun God along with some other divine objects.
Pongal is cooked by the addition of rice and water to an earthen pot. The rice cooked in this fashion is called Pongal. People are very happy and usually wear traditional clothes and signs on Surya Pongal.
People make use of the most superior quality of rice-Kollam rice on the day of Surya Pongal; it is believed to be a promising sign. The Sun God is always prayed and asked them to maintain grace over themself. An unusual ritual is also practiced on this day, where all the couples that are – husband and wife, share the pots of worship.
In villages also, people celebrate this Pongal festival with the same
The third day of Pongal
On the third day of this festival, Pongal is very famously called Mattu Pongal. On this day of Mattu Pongal, special worship and worship of the cattle are performed. On the third day, the cattle are decorated; bells and garlands of flowers are used to decorate and garlands are tied around the neck. After this, people worship the cow. The cheerful sound of the bells of the cow usually attracts the villagers and the farmers race their cattle among themselves. The cow is taken as the most vital for the farmer.
The cow gives milk to the farmer, which is used by them as a source of income. On the third day, cows are fed Pongal, and apart from the former, other animals are also given importance and are respected. Here, animals do support the farmer each moment. Animals aid the farmer from irrigation of the crop to harvesting the plant.
Animals are always there as moral support to the farmer in his happiness and sorrow. That is the reason animals are worshiped in the Hindu religion. In the villages of Tamil Nadu, every farmer worships his bulls in the communities.
The third day of Mattu Pongal has another importance. On this day, all women want their brothers a decent life and happy life. On this day, various delicious sweets are made in the houses and served to everyone in the family as part of the celebration.
The fourth day of Pongal
Kaanum Pongal, is celebrated as the fourth and final day of Pongal. On the fourth day all people from family and other relatives, come together, live together and eat together. On the fourth day, people wash leaves of turmeric, served good foods with sweets, rice, sugarcane, and betel nuts.
Finally, on this day, people seek the blessings of elder people and give a lot of love and gifts to the younger ones. This day is considered to be celebrated with great joy because of the presence and blessings from everyone. On the final day, women perform aarti with good emotions for their brothers with the aid of limestone and oil and pray for their bright and successful future.