15th January: Happy Pongal
Pongal is one of the most popular harvest festivals of South India, mainly of Tamil Nadu. Pongal falls in the mid-January every year and marks the auspicious beginning of Uttarayan - sun's journey northwards. Pongal festival lasts for four days. This four days long festival of Tamil Nadu is celebrated for showing gratitude to nature. The literal meaning of Pongal is "spilling over" and it had been named so, because of the tradition of boiling rice in a pot until it starts overflowing. Other traditions of the celebration include drawing of Kolam, swinging & cooking of delicious Pongal.
The harvest festival Pongal falls around the 15th of January. This day marks the start of the sun's six-month-long journey to northwards. Pongal is mainly celebrated to convey gratitude to the Sun God for providing the energy to agriculture and to the God Indra, the God of rain to providing the timely rain for crops. The festival takes its name from the Tamil word meaning "to boil" of milk and rice during the month of Thai. Boiling the first rice of the season is traditionally dedicated to God Sun - the Surya Maangalyam.
The Pongal is the four-day-long celebration of the year. So the first day of the festival is celebrated as Bhogi festival in the honour of Lord Indra, (the God of rain).Prayers are offered to lord Indra for timely rain and bountiful harvest. Another ritual which is performed on this day is called Bhogi Mantalu. Traditionally, all the useless household articles are thrown into the fire made of wood and cow-dung cakes. The burning of all that is old is symbolic of starting off a fresh new year. On the second day, lord Sun is worshiped by the people. As per the ritual rice is boiled with the milk outdoor in an earthen pot which is offered to Lord Sun. People wear traditional clothes and sing and dance in the praise of God. The third day of the celebration is known as "Mattu Pongal". As farmers cultivate their lands are dependent on cattle, so they honoured and worshipped by the farmers on this day. The fourth and the last day of this festival are celebrated as "Kannum Pongal". On this day, Lord Ganesha and Goddess Parvati are worshipped.
Pongal is an ancient festival of people in South India particularly Tamils. The history of the festival can be traced back to the Sangam Age i.e. 200 B.C. To 300 A.D. Although, Pongal originated as a Dravidian Harvest festival and has a mention in Sanskrit Puranas, historians identify the festival with the Thai Un and Thai Niradal which are believed to have been celebrated during the Sangam Age.