Paramparaa – The Tradition Continues…


Tamil Nadu is blessed with its major festival, Pongal that falls in the first month of every year. The renowned festival is celebrated in the second week of January, either on 14th or 15th instant in a grand-gala manner. Pongal essentially is the festival that gives a flying start and a positive beginning to a cheerful year ahead for the people of the state. The well-known festival is celebrated for four-days at a stretch. Like every celebration has a story associated with it, Pongal is celebrated in essentially the month when turmeric, rice and sugarcare are harvested.

Pongal is celebrated as a means of showing the people’s gratitude to the Almighty for harvest of the year. The literal meaning of term Pongal is “to boil” and is known with different names in various parts of the country. Interestingly, Pongal is also the name of a dish that is consumed as a part of the festival celebration. It is basically prepared with sweetened rice and lentils boiled together. The four-day celebration of the festival is appended below for convenience of the devotees.

The Bhogi festival or the first day of Pongal is observed to celebrate the existence of Lord Indira, the god of rain. On this day, bonfire is made from wood and cow-dung cakes in which the unused items of the home are burnt.

Thai Pongal would be celebrated on the second day. According to a unique custom, milk and rice are boiled together in an earthen pot and it is offered to the Sun by tying a turmeric plant to it. Kolam at the entrance of the home are also designed on this day.

Mattu Pongal would be celebrated on the third day by feeding the cows and their holiness with reverence. Importantly, cow is ornamented on this fruitful day with garlands, bells and sheaves of corn before worshipping it with folded hands.

On the fourth day, Kaanum Pongal would take place and this would be treated as concluding day of the festival. On this day, the house-wives would perform a special kind of ritual. According to the custom, the left-over of the sweet pongal are placed on a turmeric leaf in the courtyard. The devotees from various parts of Tamil Nadu, especially from remote parts of the state would throng the Marina Beach on this day as a mark of respect and announcement that the festival has come to an end for that year. It is also looked at as a way of thanking god for harvest of the season

Pongal is considered as an auspicious occasion to embark on new ventures by the entrepreneurs, similar to Muhrat Trading during Diwali festival in Maharashtra. Since Pongal is treated as a major festival for the farmers, they would initiate measures to maximise their output on the agricutural fields. A large number of people would prefer to conduct their family marriages after Pongal with a clear-cut conviction that “Thai Pirandal Vazhi Pirakkukum” (After Pongal, the beginning will be good). The job-seekers and traders firmly believe that their prospects would be better after the advent of Pongal festival.

Pongal is celebrated as Bhogali Bihu in Assam, while in Uttar Pradesh it is popular as Kicheri. In Punjab, the devotees would love to address it as Lorhi, whereas in West Bengal and Bihar, the popular festival is called as Maker Sankranti. Pongal is also celebrated internationally. It is widely appealing to the people of South East Asia, Africa, Oceania, Gulf, Europe and U.S. In Korea, they would proudly address it as Chusok, in Japan, it is famous in the name of Tori no Ichi and in Sri Lanka it is popular as Ulavar Thirunaal. The festival in general, augurs well for the people all over the world.

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