Friday, February 23, 2024

Festivals & Fairs

Festivals - Hindus | Christians | Muslims



Pongal was celebrated on the first day of the Tamil month 'Thai'. The pot in which Pongal is cooked is called "Pongal Panai". The word Pongal means 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 four days in Tamil Nadu. 

The first day is called 'Bhogi Pongal', the second day 'Surya Pongal' and the third day 'Mattu Pongal'. Bhogi Pongal is celebrated as a family festival. Bhogi pongal is dedicated to Lord Indra. It 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. The second day is dedicated to the sun (Surya) when Pongal is boiled by women and offered to the sun. Friends greet one another by asking whether rice is boiled.

The Chakhara Pongal made of rice and jaggery, seasoned with ghee, cashew nut and other spices, is a speciality for the occasion. Mattu Pongal, the third day is a day dedicated to the worship and veneration of the cattle (mattu). The Chakhara Pongal that has been offered to the local deity is given to the cattle to eat. The cattle are bathed, decorated and their horns are painted in bright colours. Coloured balls of the pongal are also made and left in the open for birds. In the villages of Madurai, Tirucherapalli and Tanjore, the final day of pongal called Kannum Pongal is indulged in existing past times like 'jallikettu' or manji virattu. Jallikettu is a kind of bull fight. Bundles containing money are tied to the horns of ferocious bulls and armed villagers try to wrest the bundles from them. In Manji virattu young man ride on bull's back for some distance and remove the money bag tied around the neck. Some men were seriously wounded and immediately removed.

Pongal is prepared in two big earthen pots and it is offered to a special miniature Ganesh made of cow-dung. The cow dung Ganesh was decorated with arugampal, thumbai flowers and avarama flowers. special kolam was drawn on the floor, decorated with red sand and the pongal pots placed over it. Turmeric, ginger, sugar cane, yellow garlands and a stick which is used to drive the bulls is offered to Ganesh in puja.