Celebrated for four days, pongal is an important harvest festival in south India and is celebrated with immense passion and ardor. Also known as Makar Sankranti, in some parts of the country, pongal is celebrated on the first day of Thai, when the sun enters the Makara Rasi (Capricornus). Marking the arrival of spring in the entire northern hemisphere, the history of the festival can be traced back to thousand years. On this auspicious day the Tamils decorate their homes with banana and mango leaves. They also use decorative patterns drawn using rice flour to welcome health and prosperity into their household. The period is referred to as Uttarayan Punyakalam which bears special significance in Hindu mythology and is considered to extremely auspicious. According to the legends, this is the period when the Devas wake up after a half a year-long slumber during this period and bestow wealth and prosperity on earth. It is a common belief that people who die during Uttarayana attain salvation as according to the Mahabharata, Bheeshma also waited for the dawn of Uttarayana to give up his life. If you want to learn more about the meaning and significance of pongal, scroll down.
Pongal Meaning & Significance
The first day of pongal is also known as Bhogi and is celebrated on the last day of the month of Margazhi. On this auspicious day people embellish their houses with paints and buy new vessels to mark a new beginning. On this day people also paint the horns of buffaloes and oxen in some regions in south India. In northern states like Punjab, this day is known as Lohri and in Assam the day is celebrated as Magh Bihu, the day on which the harvests are collected.
The second day of the festival known as, Perum Pongal holds the greatest significance. On this day people take early bath and offer prayers to the sun god, Surya and seek his blessing for adequate harvest of the rest of the year and thus this day is also known as Surya Pongal. On this day women decorate the central courtyard of their homes with beautiful kolams, done with rice flour and bordered with red clay.
The third day of the festival is called Mattu Pongal. The cows are bathed and decorated with vermilion and garlands, and aartis are performed. This day is also marked for the bullfight known as, 'manji-virattu' which is organized in certain parts of south India. In some parts this day is celebrated as 'Kannu Pongal', the day on which women offer prayers for god health and long life of their brothers. Grand banquets and family gathering are organized on this day. Apart from this, traditional dances such as kummi and kolattam are also performed on this day.
One of the most important and symbolic customs associated with the festival of pongal is the preparation of the pongal dish. Milk is poured in new metal or earthen pots and is boiled. To the boiling milk, the rice, sugarcane and turmeric leaves, collected from the new harvest are poured. The neck of the pot is tied with tender turmeric leaves and the dish is offered to the Hindu sun god, Surya. All the ingredients used in the preparation of the dish bear a special significance. Whereas, milk and rice signify wealth and prosperity, the turmeric leaves stand for the the good things to come in the coming year.
One of the great Hindu harvest festivals pongal holds special significance, especially in south Indian culture. Celebrated over a period of four days, the meaning and significance of the festival have been discussed in the article above. Hope it familiarized you with all the aspects of pongal.
This article tells us the meaning and significance behind Pongal festival.