Pongal Festival 15 th January 2023
Sun enters the Capricorn sign on Pongal festival is related to agriculture and is celebrated in southern part of India. This festival reflects the prosperity and marks the harvesting of a new crop. Its meaning is “khichdi” which is made on this day. The festival goes on for three days and the people worship rain, sun and the farm animals without which farming is not possible.
This festival is mainly celebrated for three days but in many other parts of south India it is celebrated for four days. The first day of the Pongal is known by the name of Bhogi Pongal; second day as Sun Pongal; third day as Mattu Pongal and at places where it is celebrated for fourth day it is known as Kannu Pongal.
The first day of the Pongal is known by the name of Bhogi Pongal, wherein the people worship rain god Indra. Crops need water in plenty without which it will not flourish. They worship Indra, also known as Bhogi, for abundance in crops thus prosperity and thereby derives its name.
This day marks the beginning of the new calendar of south India. There is a special significance of bonfire before sunrise on this day in which all the useless things of home are burnt.
In the morning houses are cleaned and rangoli is made from rice flour outside the house. This rangoli is known as Kolam. In mid of the rangoli cow dung rolls decorated with yellow or red flowers are made and kept.
The second day of Pongal is called Sun Pongal as Sun is worshipped on this day. A good crop needs sun in abundance without which the crops will not be good. On this day Sun enters Capricorn sign and Uttarayan begins. On this day farmers gather in an open area and cook Khichdi in a casserole or a brass pot. This Khichdi is also prepared as per the auspicious Muhurta(time).
In the pot, the knotted root of turmeric is lept and one side of this root is tied to the top of the pot. The khichdi is cooked from rice and Moong pulse.
When the khichdi ferments and fells out of the pot then ghee and milk is poured in it. This fermentation is considered to bring prosperity and happiness in the family. When the milk in the Khichdi fells out of the pot, it is considered that it will prosper the farming.
The pot in which Khichdi is cooked is called Pongal Palai. Cashew, raisins, salt, black pepper etc., are mixed in it. This Khichdi is called Wen Pongal or Shwet Pongal. Somewhere instead of salt, jaggery is mixed in it and is known by the name of Sharkara Pongal.
On this day prayers are rendered to Sun god in the morning. When the Pongal gets ready, it is along with other dishes, sugarcane and jaggery, offered to Sun god. It is then distributed as prasad to all the members of the family and relatives. In this way, Pongal is celebrated as a grand feast.
In addition, prayers are also offered to sugarcane. On this day fairs are organised in all the markets and peoples may be seen selling and purchasing sugarcane. Youngers as well as elders may be seen eating sugarcane.
The next day of Pongal festival is known by the name of Mattu Pongal. On this day farm animals like cow, ox, buffalo etc., are worshipped.
Instead of the growing technology many of the farmers are still using these traditional methods for farming as they don’t have much money. So these animals are of great importance for the farmers and thereby they worship them.
Along with the worshipping of animals, ox or bull fights and races are also organised. In south India it is believed that an aggressive bull in a house maintains the repute of the house and due to this many people tame and feed bull in their house and try to make them aggressive.
On Mattu Pongal day, farmers tie a cloth on the neck of their bulls and bring them in the war-field or race track. They then challenge others, if they can control it. Whoever wins is awarded. The bulls are aggravated by the other farmers so that the contestant does not wins easily. The winner invites the other contestant for a treat.
On this day, bullock cart races and ox races are also organised, The owner of the winning bull or ox is awarded.
For all this the farmers train their oxes and bulls through out the year.
In some parts of south India, Pongal is also celebrated on the fourth day. On this day the festival is celebrated by the name of Kaanum Pongal. In Kaanum festival, family members and relatives wishes each other. The elders present gifts to the children.
On this day feeding birds are also given much importance. Many peoples keep khichdi on banana leaf outside their house so that it may be eaten by the birds.