Pongal (harvest festival) and its different forms across India - a brief observation

Pongal greetings wikipedia 

pongal or sankaranti. pngwing.com

My Pongal greetings to all,   With the beginning of Thai, an auspicious Tamil month,  let us look forward  to a prosperous and productive  Covid-19 free year.  

India is basically an agricultural country and since the time of Indus valley Civilization and even prior to that period in some parts of South India, the people of the Indian subcontinent have known the various aspects of agriculture -  suitability of soil, crops, sources of water, etc. No doubt, India ranks second  world wide in farm output. Agriculture and allied fields like animal husbandry, fisheries,, etc make valuable contribution toward Indian economy  and they  account for  roughly 41.5%   India is one of the largest producers of wheat  and rice - our staple food.  When it comes to net cropped area, India ranks first in the world  followed by US and China. 

In Tamil Nadu, this year  Pongal - a four day celebration  lacked zeal and joy because of  Covid-19 pandemic that shows signs of slowing down. In this state  Pongal is a traditional annual  Hindu festival more popular in rural areas than in the urban space.  Part of the reason is it has close links with the  harvest season. Worship of the Sun god is an important part of the festival as it plays a major role in our life and the environment around us. The festival emphasizes the importance of starting a new period on a positive note from the birth of Thai month. The interesting fact is in the rural areas, people use the freshly harvested rice to make pongal along with jaggery, etc.  Mattu pongal celebration is  yet another important event (3rd day) and on this day cows and bulls  (latter are widely used in the rural areas) are well decorated and fed with special food. Their use to the humans is quite important and, particularly, in the old days bulls were used to plough the farms and carry the produce, etc from one place to another. On the last day Kaanu pongal  is celebrated and women play an active role and pray for the welfare of the family and their brothers and sisters.

India being a land of many festivities all through  the year, some festivals like Pongal are celebrated in a different way   across the land  under different names though they belong to the same religion.. The strong unbroken social fabric bound together by faith and devotion to god, and sustained cultural diversity make India unique. 

Sankaranti, Telengana and Andhra: 

Sankarati in Andhra and Telengana. blog.railyatri.in

In Telegana and Andhra states pongal is referred to  as Sankaranti (pongal) - a four day festival. Marakara Sankarati, the main event, is held on the second day; first  day being Bogi, on which day people discard the old items by way of burning them in the open, symbolic of driving out dark forces.  In order to do away with evil spirits or negativity. they shower the children with beri or sweet and edible drupes (Jujubbi).or Regi Pandlu in Telugu. On the day of main festival, they eat different kinds of sweets. On each of the four days, they draw Rangoli or Mgudue. Last day celebration called kanum is just like ours.(Kannu Pongal). 

Lohri, Punjab

Lohril, Punjab, India, you tube.

In Punjab, the harvest festival goes by the name of  ‘Lohri’ in January. and is held on the coldest day. It marks the beginning of the harvest season mostly celebrated by the Sikh and Hindu communities. A bonfire is lit  and the fire is fed with  rice and sesame seeds, sugarcane, etc. The perform dance -''bhangra by going around the fire, singing Lohri folk songs invoking Sun god to bless  with  good harvest; here fire  symbolizes the passing of winter season.   .     

Hadaga’ Festival, Maharashtra:

Hadaga festival, Maharastra.walkthroughindia.com

.Hadaga, kite-flying, Maharastra. india.com/

As part of the harvest festival in the state of Maharashtra, people sing songs invoking god Shiva, demigod India (rain god)  for good monsoon and better harvest. To invite god Indira, people draw the images of elephant, his vahana all over.  The festival of ‘Makar Sankranti’ is marked by kite-flying.  One can see lots of  of colorful kites of various sizes and shapes in the sky on a clear day.  In rural Maharashtra, there are feasts using freshly harvested food grains. 

Bihu, Assam

Mogh Bihu, Assam. /blog.railyatri.in

Bihu   refers to  three important Assamese festivals celebrated on different stages of cultivation of paddy; rice is the staple food in this state. Rongali or Bohag Bihu  is observed in April, Kongali or Kati Bihu  is observed in October, and Bhogali or Magh Bihu  is observed in January. The Rongali Bihu is the most important of the three, celebrating spring festival. The Bhogali Bihu or the Magh Bihu is a harvest festival, with community feasts  The Rongali Bihu coincides the Assamese New year and as well as with other regions of Indian subcontinent,

On the day of Makar Sankranti, Assamese welcome the Sun moving into the northern hemisphere. In the morning Assamese Hindus  will light the traditional Meji (a structure made of  bamboo wood and tree leaves) and pray. They also symbolically offer the produce from the harvest to the fire god, Agni, to bid farewell to the  winter season. 

Mahar Sankaranti, Jharkhand:

In Jharkhnd and Bihar, it is two day festival. On the first day of  Makar Sankranti people prepare  various sweet delicacies. The special item is Tilgud, -small  balls consisting of sesame and jaggery. The second day  marks the preparation of khichdi, a dish made of dhal, rice, cauliflower, peas and potatoes.  

Mahasankaranti in Gujarat, kite-flying. blog.railyatri.in

Sankranti or Uttarayan is a major festival for the Gujarati..Makar Sankranti is also known as Pongal, Bihu and Maghi in other parts of the country and is celebrated every year on January 14.  The Municipal Corporation, Bhopal,  Madhya Pradesh   organized Makar Sankranti Kite Festival. Residents gather in large numbers, enjoying sports  like street cricket, badminton, tug of war and kite flying.  Devotees in Bihar perform  rituals at Gandhi Ghat, Patna on the occasion. In West Bengal this festival is known as Ganga sagar and at the confluence of the Ganges and the Bay of Bengal Hindus take a dip (Snan/bath) and pray. They offer Khichdi (made from rice and dhal to the sun god, an expression of gratitude for  good harvest, etc.

Ellu bella, Karnataka. blog.railyatri.in

In the state of Karnataka, the harvest festival  is held on the 14th January every year. Referred to f Ellu Bella festival (14th January) like Tanil Nadu  bulls and cows are decorated and  prayed and fed with food. Delicacies are made using  sugarcane, sesame seeds, jaggery and coconut.