Pongal is celebrated with a lot of zeal in various parts of India, especially, Tamil Nadu and this year, it is being celebrated on January 14. Here's all you need to know about the history, significance and celebrations of Pongal in India.
Pongal is celebrated in various parts of India, however, it is one of the main multi-day harvest festivals of Tamil Nadu and is observed with a lot of zeal and enthusiasm there. The people in Southern parts of India come together and have grand celebrations on Pongal which include lots of good food and family time.
Pongal is celebrated for three days and those particular days are known as Bhogi Pongal, Surya Pongal and Maatu Pongal. This festival generally corresponds with another harvest festival, Makar Sakranti, which is celebrated throughout India.
History, Significance and Celebrations:
Pongal is mostly celebrated at the beginning of the Tai month according to the Tamil solar calendar, which generally falls on January 14. Pongal means 'to boil over or overflow' in reference to the dish that is traditionally prepared on this day. The dish involves a new harvest of rice, milk and jaggery. The dish is first offered to the Gods and Goddesses, then the cows and then it is served to the family members.
During the celebrations, cows and their horns are decorated. The festivities also include decorating houses with kolam artworks made with rice-powder along with banana leaves. Prayers are offered in the temple and families come together to exchange gifts, have meals and a gala time together.
The first mention of Pongal can be found in one of the inscriptions in the Viraraghava temple dedicated to Lord Vishnu. The inscription talks about king Kulottunga I from the Chola period and refers to a piece of land that was granted by him to the temple for celebrating Pongal every year. That is why even the first mention of the Pongal dish is dated back to the same era.
The first day of Pongal or Bhogi Pongal marks the last day of Marghazi (Tamil month). It also marks the day when people get rid of their old possessions and celebrate new things. Houses are cleaned and painted. Prayers are offered to Lord Indira - thanking and hoping for rains in the year ahead.
During the Covid-19 outbreak, the Pongal celebrations have taken an online turn and people are celebrating on video calls with their families.