Pongal is a four-day Hindu festival that falls in the month of January celebrated to honor the Sun God and Lord Indra in helping the farmers for a better harvest. So it is also known as an Indian harvest festival. This festival signifies good wishes, wealth, abundance and property. Pongal means “to boil” in Tamil language and is also the name of a sweet dish prepared by boiled rice and lentils at the time of festivals .
Few days before the festival, people clean their houses, make some food items which can be stored for a few months that can be served as snacks and purchase clothes for all four days. The day before the festival people decorate their houses with mango leaves which is an ancient tradition and paints rangoli in front of the doorsteps. On the day of the festival, people have their meals on banana leaves. The festival is famous for a newly married couple because there is a the tradition of welcoming their son-in-law for the festival and also the married women will visit their parents home for sure on this festival.
People all over India celebrate the festival with different names and in different customs.
- In Tamilnadu, Pongal is known as Thai Pongal or Uzhavar Thirunal and it is a four-day festival. When the foam of rice is boiled over the pot with milk and jaggery, a special sound will be uttered and then people celebrate it as Pongal. The festival is mainly famous for an event called “Jallikattu” which means taming the bull.
- In Karnataka, the festival is known as Suggi Habba or Makara Sankramana or Makara Sankranti which is famous for a ritual called “Ellu Birodhu” which means women visit each others house by carrying a plate of offerings and sweets to exchange between them.
- In Gujarat, the festival is known as Uttarayan which is famous for international kite flying and people offer the famous sweets called Chikki and Undhiyu made at the time of the festival.
- In West Bengal, the festival is known as Poush Sankranti. Goddess Lakshmi and Lord Shiva are especially worshiped at the time of the festival. Palm jaggery and Khejurer Gur are the famous sweets available only during this festival.
- In Jharkhand and Bihar, the festival is known as Khichdi and it is a two-day festival Taking dips in holy river early in the morning are their tradition and the sweet made of seasame seeds and jaggery are famous during the festival.
- In Punjab, the festival is celebrated as Maghi. They welcome the day by lightening the lamps with sesame oil and drives away the darkness in which they believe that brings the prosperity.
- In Delhi and Haryana, the festival is known as Sankraat famous for celebrating the tradition of the bond between brothers and their married sisters. On that day, brothers visit their sisters house and offers gifts and sweets to them.
In Andhra Pradesh and Telangana, these four days are called with different names.
- The first day is known as Bhogi.
- The Second day is known as Makara Sankranti.
- The third day is known as Kanuma.
- The fourth day is known as Mukkanuma.
The preceding day of Makara Sankranti is known as Bhogi celebrated in the honor of Lord Indra. The celebration starts with wearing new clothes, offering prayers to God ,cooking a variety of foods and Rangoli competitions as well. On this day, people set bonfire with old stuff such as logs of wood, solid fuels and furniture. In this fire, children threw cow dung cakes as it’s a tradition followed from ancient times.
The second day is called Makara Sankranti. On this day, people wear new clothes,draw rangolis in front of their house, then decorate the rangoli with different colours, cow dung balls and marigold flowers. They offer prayers and traditional food which are cooked in earthen pots to Sun God Suryadev. They also offer food to the ancestors who are no more. Cockfights,playing games and dancing are famous on this day.
The following day of Makara Sankranti is called as Kanuma. This day is also known as Thanksgiving day. On this day, farmers offer prayers to their catties with honour as they are the source of their life. Catties especially cows are worshipped on this day.
The last day of the festival is called Mukkanuma. On this day, farmers worship the soil,rain and fire for helping in the process of harvest. As it was the last day, all the families,friends,relatives and neighbours unite together and participate in several activities such as singing,dancing,playing games and have meals together in banana leaves. There is also a tradition of flying kites and thus the sky is filled with colourful kites which makes everyone attract to see the view of all these, there are many attractive things in the festival such as:
- Haridas, the servant of Lord Hari passes through all the houses early in the morning by singing the songs of Lord Vishnu.
- The well-decorated ox with clothes and accessories.
- People from different villages gather together to see the Cockfight which is very famous and can be seen only during this festival.
- Playing games such as cards and Kabaddi are also famous during the festival.
Wish you a very happy Pongal and I wish God will give all the wealth and prosperity to you all.