Indian Festivals

Pongal

Pongal is a Harvest Festival, mostly celebrated in south India. Pongal in Tamil means "boiling over." Traditionally celebrated at harvest time, it is a celebration of the prosperity associated with the harvest. Pongal is celebrated by the Indian state of Tamil Nadu as well as Tamils worldwide, including those in Sri Lanka, Malaysia, and Singapore. The festival has been in practice for some 5,000 years. While Pongal is predominantly a Tamil festival, it is also celebrated in several other provinces with different names. In Andhra Pradesh, Kerala, and Karnataka, the harvest festival Sankranthi is celebrated. In northern India, Pongal is called Makara Sankranti. In Maharashtra and Gujarat, it is celebrated on the date of the annual kite flying day, Uttarayan. It also coincides with the bonfire and harvest festival in Punjab and Haryana, known as Lohri. People of all relegion celebrate pongal festival in India.

Celebration

The first day, Bhogi, is celebrated by throwing away and destroying old clothes and materials, by setting them on fire, marking the end of the old Thai and the emergence of the new Thai. The second day, Pongal, is the main day, falling on the first day of the Tamil month Thai (January 14 15). Also known as Sarkarai Pongal or Veetu Pongal, it is celebrated by boiling rice with fresh milk and jaggery in new pots, which are later topped with brown sugar, cashew nuts and raisins early in the morning and allowing it to boil over the vessel. This tradition gives Pongal its name. The moment the rice boils over and bubbles out of the vessel, the tradition is to shout of "Ponggalo Ponggal!" and blowing the sangu (a conch), a custom practiced during the festival to announce it was going to be a year blessed with good tidings. For Tamils, it is considered a good sign to watch it boil over, since it means that good luck and prosperity is forthcoming. The New boiled rice is offered to the Nature during sunrise, a gesture which symbolises thanks to the sun and nature for providing prosperity. It is later served to the people present in the house for the ceremony. People also prepare savories and sweets, visit each other, and exchange greetings. The third day, Maattu Pongal, is for offering thanks to cattle, as they help farmer in different ways for agriculture. Jallikattu, a "taming the wild bull" contest, is the main event of this day. During the final day, Kaanum Pongal (the word kaanum means "to view") people visit beaches and theme parks. They also chew sugar cane and decorate their houses with kolam.

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