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Pongal is the harvest festival of South India. Here are different dates of Pongal festival.

When is Pongal?

Pongal Date is the winter solstice in the Hindu solar calendar. The passing of the sun into the sign Capricorn marks it. Pongal is celebrated on this date itself and also to celebrate the coming of spring. There are several ways of calculating the Hindu solar calendar, so Pongal date may vary by up to one day in various parts of India depending whether local custom dictates the use of the old or new Hindu calendar or astronomical tables. Pongal or Thai Pongal is also called Makara Sankaranthi, since it is celebrated on the first day of Thai when the Sun enters the Makara Rasi (Capricornus). This signals the end of winter and the onset of spring throughout the northern hemisphere. Pongal is majorly celebrated as a festival of harvest and in Tamil Nadu it is celebrated as their New Year's Day. It is a for day celebration beginning with Bhogi Pongal followed by Thai, Mattu and Kaanum Pongal. For the next six months, the days are longer and warmer.

Pongal Festival Date
As the day of Pongal celebration is decided according to the solar calendar, the Pongal date remains the same every year. Following are the date on which the four days of Pongal are celebrated:

When is Pongal Celebrated

Bhogi Pongal
The first day or Bhogi Pongal is dedicated to the worship of Lord Indra, the rain God. People rise early clean their homes well and adorn it with Kollam and flowers. They get ready in new clothes to worship Lord Ganesha whose idol is made from cow dung or turmeric.

Thai Pongal
On the second day is people worship Surya, the Sun god. The Pongal dish is prepared in all household. This is basically a sweet rice dish cooked in milk and is offered to Lord Ganesha and then to cows and then it is distributed as among the family members.

Maathu Pongal
The third day Mattu Pongal is a day is meant for cattle and other animals. On this day the worship of the Goddess Parvati and her son, the elephant-headed Lord Ganesha is conducted. The cattle which are an inevitable part of all farmers are bathed and decorated. Various cattle races, especially bull fights are organized.

Kaanum Pongal
On the fourth and the final day of the Pongal festival which is traditionally known as Kannum Pongal, the families relax, visit each other and have meals with friends and family. Pongal is traditionally a harvest festival and on the last day the families thank each other for their support during farming. Therefore, till today people visit each other's house to strengthen their ties or to rejoice, if not to thank each other.

Pongal Dish
Preparing the Pongal dish is forms the major part of the festival. The Pongal is a sweet pudding which consists of freshly reaped rice cooked in milk with the addition of jaggery for the sweet flavor. The rice is boiled with fresh milk and jaggery in new clay pots. Once the rice is cooked, it is topped with sugar, ghee, cashew nuts and raisins. All this must be done before sunrise. The Tamilians let the milk boil over the pot as it signifies good luck and prosperity. Before having the Pongal, it offered to the Sun God, Surya at sunrise. It is a gesture of gratitude as the presence of sun is extremely essential for the harvests. Later it is served to the members of the family.

Pongal is celebrated with a lot of pomp and gaiety throughout the nation. Most of the schools and offices remain closed for at least a day so that people can enjoy the festival with their friends and families.

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