Pongal, the festival of harvest, has is celebrated in different manners in various regions. Though it is observed on the same day all over India, but the celebrations vary from place to place. It has also different names in each region. Yet, bonfires and feasts are the common elements in Pongal celebration everywhere. This festival is celebrated with much joy and fervor throughout the nation. Pongal is 4-5 day affair in which the first two or three days are spent in worshipping several Gods and the last days are marked by various sports, such as bull fights. People get up early in the morning to clean their houses and decorate them. They conduct a puja after which they prepare special dishes. The food preparation again differs from region to region. In the southern part of India, especially in Tamil Nadu, pongal (milk and rice pudding) is prepared, while in the north people make like til and gur laddoos. People exchange gifts and the homemade delicacies to wish each other. The article below is about how Pongal is celebrated in different parts of India.
Pongal Festival Regional Significance
Pongal in Tamil Nadu
In Tamil Nadu this is one of the most important of festivals. It is celebrated to mark the departure of the southeast monsoons as well as the reaping of the harvest. The Sun God is worshipped for sustaining life on Earth through the rays. The name of the festival is derived from Pongal, a rice pudding made from freshly harvested rice with a combination of milk and jaggery. Pongal is observed for four days, the first day being Bhogi Pongal, a day for the family when they discard their old and used possessions by throwing into a bon fire. The second day is dedicated to Sun God, the third day Mattu Pongal is for the worship of animals and the fourth day known as Kaanum Pongal is a day for family reunion. The last is like thanksgiving, where families thank each other for their support (in the harvest).
Pongal in Karnataka
Here the festival is famous as Sankranti, in which Pongal, i.e. sweet rice pudding, is prepared and fed to the cows and bullocks. People wear new clothes and offer prayers in temples and in their houses. Here also the festival signifies the harvest of the season, sugar cane being the predominant crop. Families visit their near and dear ones with some offering on plate called Ellu-Bella, which contains various sugar candy molds of various shapes, fried groundnuts, jiggery, coconut and s piece of sugar cane.
Pongal in Maharashtra and Gujrat
In these two states, Pongal is known as Makar Sankranti. Here the festival is marked by kite-flying. The entire sky is filled with kites as people indulge in kite-flying competitions. The advent of Makar Sankranti marks the end of winter and the beginning of spring.
Pongal in Assam
In Assam this celebrated as Bhogali Bihu, which is a harvest festival. Bihu marks the end of harvest season and the start of a festive period. Since it is the end of the harvesting season when the granaries are full, there is a lot of feasting. The festival lasts for a week which includes various forms of revelries.
Pongal in Uttar Pradesh
In Uttar Pradesh more than two million people gather at their respective sacred places for a holy bathing. According to the Hindi mythology, Makar Sankranti is the first of the big bathing days.
Pongal in West Bengal
In West Bengal is Pongal or Makar Sankranti is known as 'Poush Sankranti'. Here also it is celebrated as a festival of harvest. The newly harvested paddy along with the date palm syrup called Khejurer Gur is used in the preparation of a variety of traditional Bengali sweets made with rice flour, coconut, milk. The festival lasts for three days.
Despite its different names Pongal is mostly observed as harvest festival. Apart from preparing scrumptious food, the festival is considered a period of joy and merriment. People indulge in a lot of games and sports together which is good way of strengthening social bonds.
Ponam is primarily a harvest festival. Find out the regional significances of Pongal.