Pongal stands for boiling over or spilling over. Pongal is also the name of the sweet dish that is cooked on this day. Pongal is celebrated for four days in the Thai month which in Tamil means tenth month. Pongal is a harvest festival in Tamilnadu. In other parts of country this festival is celebrated as Makar Sankranti.
Pongal 2014 Date : When is Pongal?
Pongal is the only festival that follows solar calendar and it is celebrated on January 14th every year. Pongal marks the end of winter season and beginning of the harvest season. It corresponds to the time when the sun enters northern hemisphere from the southernmost tip. This northward transit of the sun for the next six months is called uttaryana and is believed to be very auspicious period.
There are two main legends associated with the festival. One is associated with the first day when Lord Indra is worshipped. It is believed that Lord Krishna lifted the Govardhan Mountain under which the people took shelter from heavy rain and flood. Another legend tells about the third day of Pongal when cows are worshipped. It is believed that since Nandi gave a wrong message from lord Shiva to the people that they should eat daily and take oil bath once in a month instead of telling them to take bath daily and eat once a month he was punished by lord Shiva to remain on earth and help people grow food grains.
Each of the four days has their own significance and customs.
The first day is called the bogi festival.This day is dedicated to lord Indra who is the god of clouds and rains. On this day people clean their houses and all unwanted goods are burnt in a bonfire in the evening. People decorate their houses with kolam which is patterns in rice flour.
The second day is the most important of all days and on this day the sun God is worshipped. On this day too women decorate their homes with beautiful kolams. On this day rice is boiled with milk and jiggery in an earthen pot and it is allowed to overflow because of the belief that this connotes good luck and prosperity. A turmeric plant is also tied around the pot. This dish is offered to sun god in a banana leafPeople eat sugarcanes and sweet dish on this and wear new clothes.
This day is dedicated to worshipping farm animals like the cow and bulls. On this day the cattle’s are given a bath and their horns are painted. Garlands are also tied around their neck and an arti is performed and pongal is offered to the cattle. In some places in Tamilnadu jalli kattu is organised which is kind of a bull fight where people try to tame the wild bull.
Kanum Pongal / Thiruvalluvar day
Fourth day is the kanum pongal. It is also celebrated as thiruvalluvar day. On this day sisters visit their brothers. It is a day to meet family and friends and enjoy the festive mood. It is also a day when the workers are given gifts and bonus by their owners as a token of their hard work.