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The festival of Harvest is here, that paints our hearts with sweet and tradition. We the people of Tamil Nadu are traditional people. Pongal is one of our traditional festivals, that is being followed for centuries. The sweet pongal, tender sugar cane, new dresses, fun with family, spending time with cattles and what not.
Pongal is an ancient festival of people in South India especially Tamilians. The history of the festival goes way 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.
How did Tamilians celebrated?
During the Sangam era the festival was celebrated with different traditions. As part of the festivities, maidens of the Sangam era observed ‘Pavai Nonbu’ during Thai Niradal which was a major festival during the reign of the Pallavas. It was observed during the Tamil month of Margazhi. During this festival young girls prayed for rain and prosperity of the country.
Throughout the month, they avoided milk and milk products. They would not oil their hair and refrained from using harsh words while speaking. Women used to bath early in the morning. They worshiped the idol of Goddess Katyayani, which would be carved out of wet sand. They used to end their ‘Pavai Nonbu’ on the first day of the month of Thai. This penance was to bring abundant rains to flourish the paddy. These traditions and customs of ancient times gave rise to Pongal celebrations.
How do we celebrate it now?
Hindu mythology states that this is when the day of the gods begins, after a six-month long night. The festival is spread over three days and is the most important harvest festival of South India.
A special puja is performed on the first day of Pongal before the cutting of the paddy. Farmers worship the sun and the earth by anointing their ploughs and sickles with sandal wood paste. It is with these consecrated tools that the newly-harvested rice is cut. Each of the three days are marked by different festivities.
The first day, Bhogi Pongal, is a day for the family. People burn their old belongings to mark the start of a fresh life.
Surya Pongal, the second day, is dedicated to the worship of Surya, the Sun God. Boiled milk and jaggery is offered to the Sun God. The third day of Pongal, Mattu Pongal, is for worship of the cattle. Cattle are bathed, their horns polished and painted in bright colors, and garlands of flowers placed around their necks.
The Pongal that has been offered to the Gods is then given to cattle and birds to eat.
The day after pongal is called Kaanum pongal, during which people spend their time with their beloved ones. Jallikattu is famous all around the southern states and it gets carried out on the fourth day of Pongal. This tradition is believed to bring prosperity to the people.
Pongal in other states:
Pongal is being celebrated in other states as Maha Sankaranti or Mahara Sankaranti. The festival is being celebrated to mark the end of Winter or to mark the first day of Harvest. It is significant in states like Andhra Pradesh, Karnataka, Odisha and others. During Sankaranti poeple spend their time with family. Kite flying, lighting the lamp and putting tika on forehead are few of the traditions that are bring followed Sankaranti. It differes in each state. Let this celebration bring light and prosperous into everyone’s life.
Wish you all a Happy Pongal…

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