Wednesday, October 24, 2007

Pongal - The Harvest Festival of Tamil Nadu

What is Pongal?

a) Is it the dish that tamilians have for breakfast?
b) Is it the 4 day Thanksgiving festival celebrated in the month of January in tamilnadu?
c) Does it mean "to boil?"
d) All of above
For those familiar, they would automatically pick the option" d".

Pongal is the quintessential harvest festival of Tamilnadu and a traditional occasion for giving thanks to nature, for celebrating the life cycles that give us grain.

A Tamil saying goes on that "Thai Piranthal Vazhi Pirakkum" meaning that when the month of Thai dawns there will be way of love, peace, harmony, prosperity, joyness in everyone's life.

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. It is the day for spring cleaning. All old and unwanted things are thrown away or burnt.

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 Have you boiled the Rice?

Mattu Pongal, the third day is a day dedicated to the worship and veneration of the cattle. The cattle are bathed, decorated and their horns are painted in bright colours.

The Fourth day is known as Kanu or Kannum Pongal day. Its a day when the women prays for the prosperity of their family and of their brothers should prosper.

Pongal in other parts of India

Makar Sankranti
In the North Indian states of India, people celebrate this day as Makar Sankranti. The most exciting thing about this festival is the kite flying. People believe that the direction of the wind changes on that day, and so they all come out into the streets to fly colorful kites and capture as many as possible.

On Kaanum Pongal, elaborate powdered chalk designs of the sun god, Surya are drawn. As soon as the auspicious month of Thai is underway, Surya is worshipped.

In Punjab, people celebrate Lohri in January on what they believe is the coldest day of the year. With the cold winds blowing they celebrate by dancing the bhangra around a fire, which is fed with sugarcane, rice and sesame seeds. People sing folk songs that tell of a good harvest, which is a blessing from the gods.

Bihu / Bohaggiyo Bhishu
This is the greatest festival of the Assamese people, who observe three Bihus. The three Bihus, constitute a festival complex and are celebrated at various stages of the cultivation of paddy, the principal crop of Assam.

The first day is Bhogi and is in honor of Indra the god of rain. There are many legends told about this day. The day begins with a til (sesame) oil bath and in the evening there is a bonfire in which all the rubbish in the house is burnt.

Hadaga Festival
The Hadaga festival in Maharashtra is to pray for a good monsoon and a good harvest. As Indra is the god of rain, people sing songs to Indra and pray for rain. Pictures of the elephant which is Indra's vehicle are drawn everywhere to invite the God.

Pongal Recipes

1. Venpongal
2.Sarkkarai Pongal
3.Puran Poli On Bohi Day

This is my submission for Viji's RCI Tamil Festival


Madhu said...

Very well written about Pongal/sankaranthi, like the photos too.Great entry

Tee said...

Beautiful post!

Happy cook said...

I have to say i leanred more about pongal. Thankx for the very informatative post

indosungod said...

MT, very informative even for someone who has celebrated Pongal all their life.

Asha said...

Great post MT! Well written!:)

remya said...

fab post...lovely entry

Daily Meals said...

Hi MT! Kolam looks beautiful and thanks for the informative post.

DEEPA said...

very neat and awesome post !!!!!

Sharmi said...

very lovely write up and lovely entry. I loved the mud pot:))

Linda said...

Hi MT. I always learn so much reading your recipes and this post is particularly wonderful because you went into such detail. You write beautifully. Thanks for sharing :)