For the dish, see Pongal (dish).
Thai Pongal (Tamil: தைப்பொங்கல், )is a harvest festival dedicated to the Sun. It is a four-day festival which according to the Tamil calendar is usually celebrated from January 14 to January 17..
Thai Pongal is one of the most important festivals celebrated by Tamil people in the Indian state of Tamil Nadu, the Indian Union Territory of Puducherry, and the country of Sri Lanka, as well as Tamils worldwide, including those in Malaysia,Mauritius, South Africa, United States, Singapore, Canada and UK.
The day marks the start of the sun's six-month-long journey northwards (the Uttaraayanam). This also corresponds to the Indic solstice when the sun purportedly enters the 10th house of the Indian zodiac Makara or Capricorn. Thai Pongal is mainly celebrated to convey appreciation to the Sun for a successful harvest. Part of the celebration is the boiling of the first rice of the season consecrated to the Sun.
The origins of the Thai Pongal festival may date to more than 1000 years ago.Epigraphic evidence suggests the celebration of the Puthiyeedu during the Medieval Cholaempire days. Puthiyeedu is believed to represent the first harvest of the year. Tamil people refer to Pongal as "Tamizhar Thirunaal," the festival of Tamizhs.
Thai refers to the name of the tenth month in the Tamil calendar, Thai (தை). Pongal usually means festivity or celebration; more specifically Pongal is translated as "boiling over" or "overflow." Pongal is also the name of a sweetened dish of rice boiled with lentils that is ritually consumed on this day. Symbolically, pongal signifies the gradual heating of the earth as the Sun travels northward toward the equinox.
Though TAMIL THAI PONGAL does not have any connection with Makara Sankranthi, Pongal day coincides with Makara Sankranthi which is celebrated throughout India, Nepal and Bangladesh.
|Thai Pongal||Tamil Nadu|
|Makara Sankranthi||Andhra Pradesh, Bengal, Bihar, Goa, Karnataka, Kerala, Orissa, Madhya Pradesh, Maharashtra, Manipur, Telangana Uttar Pradesh|
|Uttarayana||Gujarat and Rajasthan|
|Maghi||Haryana, Himachal Pradesh and Punjab|
|Magh Bihu/Bhogali Bihu||Assam|
|Maghe SankrantiorMakar Sankranti||Nepal|
Main article: Pongal (dish)
Besides rice and milk the ingredients of this sweet dish include cardamom, raisins, Green gram (split), and cashew nuts. Cooking is done in sunlight, usually in a porch or courtyard, as the dish is dedicated to the Sun god, Surya. The cooking is done in a clay pot that is decorated with coloured patterns called kolam. Pongal has two variants, one sweet and one savoury. The dish is served on banana leaves.
Cooking pongal is a traditional practice at Hindu temples during any part of the Temple Festival in Tamil Nadu.
Days of the 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. In Tamil Nadu farmers keep medicinal herb (neem, avram, sankranti) in northeast corner of each fields, to prevent crops from diseases and pests.
Bhogi is also observed on the same day in Andhra Pradesh. In the ceremony called Bhogi Pallu, fruits of the harvest such as regi pallu and sugar cane are collected along with flowers of the season. Money is often placed into a mixture of treats and is poured over children. The children then separate and collect the money and sweet fruits.
This day is celebrated in Punjab as Lohri and in Assam as Magh Bihu / Bhogali Bihu.
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 Uttarayana, 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 Pongu means "overflowing," signifying abundance and prosperity.
During the festival, milk is cooked in a vessel. When it starts to bubble and overflows out of the vessel, freshly harvested rice grains are added to the pot. At the same time other participants blow a conch called the sanggu and shout "Pongalo Pongal!" They also recite "Thai Pirandhal Vazhi Pirakkum" ("the commencement of Thai paves the way for new opportunities"). This is repeated frequently during the Pongal festival. The Pongal is then served to everyone in the house along with savories and sweets such as vadai, murukku, paayasam.
Tamilians decorate their homes with banana and mango leaves and embellish the floor with decorative patterns drawn using rice flour.kolams/rangolis are drawn on doorsteps. Family elders present gifts to the young.
The Sun stands for "IYENGAR BRAHMAN" - the manifest God, who symbolizes the one, non-dual, self-effulgent, glorious divinity blessing one and all tirelessly. The Sun is the one who transcends time and also the one who rotates the proverbial wheel of time.
Maattu 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 Maattu Pongal, cattle are recognized and afforded affectionately. Features of the day include games such as the Jallikkattu and taming bull.
Kanu Pidi is a tradition for women and young girls. During Kanu Pidi women feed birds and pray for their brothers' well being. As part of the "Kaka pidi, Kanu pidi" feast women and girls place a feast of colored rice, cooked vegetables, banana and sweet pongal on ginger or turmeric leaves for crows to share and enjoy. During this time women offer prayers in the hope that brother-sister ties remain forever strong as they do in a crow family.
On this day celebrants bathe and decorate their cattle with garlands. Cows are decorated with manjalthanni (turmeric water) and oil. Shikakai apply kungumam (kumkum) to their foreheads, paint their horns, and feed them a mixture of venn pongal, jaggery, honey, banana and other fruits. In the evening people pray to Lord Ganesh. One ritual is to light a torch of coconut leaves and carry it around cattle three times and then run to the border of the village to drop it. This is believed to remove the evil influences caused by the jealousy of other people over the cattle.
Kaanum Pongal (Kanni Pongal)
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. Villagers visit relatives and friends while in the cities people flock to beaches and theme parks with their families. Celebrants chew sugar cane and again decorate their houses with kolam. Relatives and friends receive thanks for their assistance supporting the harvest.
In Andhra Pradesh, Mukkanuma, the final day of Sankranthi festival, is celebrated by worshiping cattle. Mukkanuma is famous among non-vegetarians. People do not eat non-vegetarian dishes during the first three days of the festival, saving them for the day of Mukkanuma.
In 2017, Delegate David Bulova introduced a joint resolution HJ573 in the Virginia House of Delegates to designate January 14 of each year as Pongal Day.
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Kolam drawn in front of houses
India is a land of diverse culture, and we have heard that line to death. We also know along with the different cultures come numerous festivals spreading across the calendar. Before we're done celebrating one, another comes right around the corner.Likewise, just as we got over Lohri, Pong
India is a land of diverse culture, and we have heard that line to death. We also know along with the different cultures come numerous festivals spreading across the calendar. Before we're done celebrating one, another comes right around the corner.
Likewise, just as we got over Lohri, Pongal has arrived. But in North India, some of us might not know about this festivity that is wrapped around few amazing traditions.
If you're one of them, here's all you need to know about Pongal celebrations, which is being observed right now in southern India, especially Tamil Nadu, and in many places across India:
What is Pongal?
Pongal is a four-day-long harvest festival celebrated in Tamil Nadu, which falls in the month of Thai (that is, the January-February season) when crops like rice, sugarcane, turmeric etc. are harvested.
The term 'pongal' in Tamil means "to boil", and this festival is celebrated as a thanksgiving ceremony for the year's harvest. Pongal, one of the important Hindu festivals, falls around the same time as Lohri every year, which is around mid-January.
Pongal also happens to be the name of a dish consumed during this festive time, which is sweetened rice boiled with lentils.
The first day of Pongal - The Bhogi festival
The Bhogi festival is celebrated in honour of Lord Indra, the god of rain, and the lord of lords. The ritual of Bhogi Mantalu is also observed this day, during which useless items of the household are tossed into a bonfire traditionally made of cow dung cakes and wood.
The second day - Thai Pongal
This day, a special ritual is performed where rice and milk are boiled together in an earthen pot - to which a turmeric plant is tied - out in the open as an offering to the sun god. Along with this, sticks of sugarcane, coconuts and bananas are also offered.
Another important aspect of this day is the kolam, the traditional design hand-drawn at the entrance of houses with lime powder. This auspicious drawing must be done early in the morning and only after a bath.
The third day - Mattu Pongal
Mattu Pongal is the day celebrated in the name of cows. The cattle are adorned with bells, sheaves of corn and garlandsand worshipped.
Legend has it that Lord Shiva had once sent his bull, Basava, to earth with a message for the mortals, asking them to have an oil massage and bath daily, and to eat once a month. Basava, however, mistakenly announced Shiva has asked people to eat daily and have an oil bath once a month.
Enraged, Shiva banished Basava to the earth forever, cursing he would have to plough the fields to help people produce more food. Hence, the association of this day to cattle.
The fourth day - Kaanum Pongal
Kaanum (or Kanu) Pongal marks the last day of Pongal. On this day, a ritual is performed where the leftover sweet Pongal and other food are set out in the courtyard on a washed turmeric leaf, along with betel leaves, betel nuts and sugar cane.
Women of the household carry out this ritual in the name of their brothers, asking for their prosperity.
So, now that all that has been said, we would like to wish you all a very Happy Pongal!