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Pongal

Pongal
Place: Tamilnadu
Month : Mid January
Significance: End of the harvest season.
Date: 14.1.2019

Pongal is celebrated on the first day of the Tamil month 'Thai'. The word Pongal which literally means 'boiling over' refers to rice cooked in milk and jaggery. 'Pongal' is a celebration of spring on the occasion of the 'ascent' of the sun to the north. It is the celebration of the harvest season. It is celebrated for three days or four days in Tamil Nadu. The first day called 'Bhogi Pongal', is dedicated to Lord Indra; ruler of the clouds and rain for providing rain for the harvest, the second day 'Surya Pongal' (14th January) is dedicated to the sun god 'Surya' and the third day 'Mattu Pongal' , is dedicated to the worship and veneration of cattle (mattu) for plowing the fields. On the second day, people make Pongal; 'ven pongal' and 'Chakhara Pongal' made of rice and jaggery, seasoned with ghee, cashew nut and other spices. It is a speciality of the occasion. On the final day they also have pass times like 'jallikettu' or manji virattu. Jallikettu is a kind of bull fight where decorated bulls are driven out into the open with money bags tied around their necks and any one who manages to mount the bulls and ride them can claim the bags. 

  Bhogi pongal is the day for spring cleaning. All old and unwanted things are thrown away or burnt. At that time boys beat little drums known as ' Bhogi Kottu' which are specially made for the occasion with buffalo hide. Then Kolams (Special designs) are drawn on the floor with the paste of newly harvested rice. During Surya Pongal, pongal is boiled by women, allowed to boil over and offered to the sun. Friends greet one another by asking whether rice is boiled.  A special ritual of seeing the reflection of the sun in a metal plate full of water is performed. During Mattu pongal, the cattle are bathed, decorated and their horns are painted in bright colours. On this day, pujas are performed for goddess Parvathi and the pongal made is offered to her and Ganesha. Coloured balls of the pongal are also made given to the cattle and left in the open for birds.

Pongal is prepared in two big earthen pots called 'Pongal Panai' and it is offered to a special miniature Ganesh made of cow-dung. This Ganesh is decorated with arugampal, thumbai flowers and avarama flowers. Special 'kolam' is drawn on the floor, decorated with red sand and the pongal pots placed over it. Turmeric, ginger, sugar cane, yellow garlands and a stick (adalikkombu) used to drive the bulls is offered to Ganesh in Puja. The fourth day is 'Kanum Pongal' which is a time for rest and is considered inauspicious and the fifth day is 'Kanya Pongal' when married women visit their parents home and the brothers give presents to their sisters.

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