Pongal or Sankranti festival - many cultures celebrate it as a mark of new prosperous season!!

.Harvest festival Pongal, 2024. oneindia.com

Pongal festival Ja. 2024 behance.net/

Among the Festivals of India, Pongal is more popular in south india, in particular, Tamil Nadu.  Dedicated to the Sun  God, the 4-day Pongal  festival  begins with the harvest  season and it also marks the end of the winter season.  People also pray to the rain god Indira for copious supply of rains for the  agricultural production. The main event falls on the first day of the Tamil month of Thai (from January 15th till January 18th).  The festivities start with Bhogi followed by  Thai Pongal, Mattu Pongal and kaanum Pongal.  The first day of Pongal is celebrated as Bhogi Pongal in the Tamil Nadu, Telangana, Andhra Pradesh and Karnataka.

The annual harvest festival goes by different names - Makar Sankranti in Maharashtra and Gujarat, Magh Bihu in the NE states, Lahiri in Punjab and Haryana, Sankranti in Karnataka and Andhra and Pongala in Kerala. However,  among the diverse cultures and traditions,  the auspicious festivities mark the beginning of  a new prosperous season, relegating the negative aspects to the backstage. 

Some of the  important traditions associated with  Pongal  in South India  are as follows

Bhogi or Bhogi Mantalu marks the cleaning of the household and disposing of old and unwanted stuff, Sometimes they they set bonfires and throw the stuff into them. They spend the  evening  by the bonfire, singing, dancing and enjoying seasonal  snacks. This practice is on the decline lately  as this causes air-pollution. Apart, women folks draw  beautiful pookalams (rangoli) in front of the house and in the puja room  and impart a positive ambiance.  

Thai Pongal ; Pongal is the main day and on this dat women use decorated earthen pot with mango leaves and turmeric leaves and prepare Pongal using rice, milk jaggery, grated coconut, nut, etc preferably using  hearth.  The dish is cooked to  boil and overflow the brim.  The boiling and overflowing symbolizes abundance and prosperity .

Mattu Pongal - worshiping of farm animals. This festivity gives importance to farm cattle, bulls and cows as they are an integral part of agriculture in the rural areas. Indian farmers never fail to miss the event and celebrate it on a grand scale by bathing, decorating and  feeding the cattle. Before feeding them,  village women offer prayer and worship them. It is a time-honored old tradition that is being followed for centuries. Before the advent od tractor and farm equipment the farmers relied on the bulls to plough the field and transport the produce to the markets.  

Khanum Pongal is the concluding event in which women folks, particularly unmarried young girls participate.  In the household after bathing and wearing traditional dress  women prepare a variety of cooked rice food and put them on the plantain leaves.  Young girls pray for a good husband and also the the welfare of the family members.