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Location : Tamil Nadu.
In the month of : January.
Duration : Four days.
Celebrated For : Withdrawal of monsoon in southwest and also reaping of the harvest.
Majority of the population in India depends on agriculture, so mainly most of the fiesta’s in India is also related to agricultural activities of the People. Hence these festivals are celebrated with various names in various parts of the country, among which Pongal is the most significant festival that is being celebrated in Tamil Nadu, dedicated to farmers to mark their harvesting crops. This festival takes place in the middle of January; this is when people are ready to thank Earth, God and their Cattle for astonishing harvest and go on with the celebration with full fledged rituals and traditions.
Pongal is carried on for four days, and is also known as the Harvest Festival. This festival marks its beginning on the last day of the month of Tamil with Bhogi Pongal which is followed by Surya. On the next day of the Bhigi comes the day of Pongal where a delicacy of Pongal that is Chakkara is offered to the Sun God, this offering is prepared through harvest rice cooked with jaggery, cashew nuts and ghee.
Every festival that is celebrated in our country as some or the other legend is attached to its celebration, so is the case with the celebration of Pongal, the legend behind the first day of celebration of Pongal is when Lord Krishna, on his small finger lifted the Govardhana mountain,, so that people could get shelter under the mountain, saving themselves from the rains and floods. Heading towards the third day of the Pongal the legend goes like, once Lord Shiva had ordered Nandi, his bull to go on the earth and pass a message to the people to eat once in a month and have an oil bath every day, reaching the earth, Nandi in his confusion mixed up two things and gave a wrong message to eat everyday and have a oil bath only once in a month, displeased by Nandi’s act Lord Shiva asked him to stay back of the earth and help people to plough as they have to yield in more crops to have food everyday.
The celebration of Pongal has many rituals attached with it, like the place of Pongal puja is being washed properly and smeared with dung, a day prior to the festival, an open courtyard is generally chosen for this purpose by the people. Rangoli are drawn by making the use of rice flour, the idea behind the usage of the flour is to feed the insects and house can be blessed through this. In the centre of the Rangoli, a lump of cow dung bears five petals of pumpkin flower; this is taken as a symbol of offering love to the Lord and also considered as fertility. In this way all the houses are cleaned, painted before the festival arrives. From the stunning temple of Chennai, the Kandaswami, Tanjore and Triruchirrapalli, there are processions taken out, here Pongal is popularly known as Jellikattu, wherein bundles of money are tied in on the bulls horns, there is a try made by the villagers to wrest the bundles from them, meals are offered to the community by the freshly gathered harvest and the whole villagers enjoy the meals.
The first day of Pongal is known as Bhogi, on this day people clean their homes and collect the unwanted stuff and in the evening there is a bonfire lit wherein the unwanted stuff is burnt off. Followed by the first day, comes the day of Pongal when the actual celebration begins, on this auspicious day the Lord Sun is worshipped, women wake up early morning and decorate their houses with Rangoli’s. Then is the day of Mattu Pongal, this day is dedicated to cattle, which helps us to plough the fields, here the bulls are painted and decorated with bells and paints and people offers prayer to the bull. After al three days of the festival comes the Kaanum Pongal on this day people go out and enjoy with their relatives and family.