January is an auspicious month filled with blessings and prosperity. This is the month when Indians begin to prepare for the pongal festival. Do you know your pongal facts right? Well quick question to test that pongal facts of yours.
What are the countries outside India that celebrate this harvest festival? ….. Malaysia, Mauritius, the Persian Gulf, Australia, New Zealand, South Africa, Singapore, the United States, the United Kingdom, and Canada is the answer.
Let us now delve deeper into why Pongal is celebrated.
WHAT IS PONGAL?
Pongal is a harvest festival celebrated by the Tamil community. It is a celebration to thank the Sun, Mother Nature, and the various farm animals that help to contribute to harvesting. Celebrated over four days, Ponggal also marks the beginning of the Tamil month called Thai, which is considered an auspicious month. Tamil people have a strong belief that family problems will be resolved during the Tamil month of Thai beginning on Ponggal day. Pongal usually falls on the 14th or 15th of January each year.
This year Pongal falls on 15 January 2023
Pongal is also the name of the dish made and eaten during this festival. It is a mixture of boiled sweet rice. It is derived from the Tamil word pongu, which means “to boil over”.
FOUR DAYS OF PONGAL
The first day of Pongal is called Bhogi. It is a day when cleaning and getting rid of old belongings are carried out to signify a fresh start. New clothes are worn, and houses are decorated in the spirit of the festivity.
The second day is the main day of Pongal and is celebrated as Surya Pongal. On this day, the Sun God is honoured. Colourful decorative floor patterns called kolam are drawn at the house entrance, and each household cooks a pot of fresh rice with milk at auspicious times.
This year the auspicious time for the ponggal prayers starts from 7.26 am to 11.26 am. Whereas those planning to do the prayers towards noon, the next auspicious time is from 2.30 pm to 5.00 pm.
As the milk boils freely over the pot, family members shout out happily “Pongalo Pongal”! After the Pongal is offered to the Sun God, they would feast on several Pongal dishes that are prepared especially for the day.
The third day of Pongal is called Maatu Pongal. This day is devoted to honouring and worshiping the cattle (Maatu). Cows are bathed and adorned with multi-colored beads, flower garlands, and bells.
The fourth day of Ponggal is called Kaanum Pongal. Kaanum ponggal is also known as the virgin ponggal( Kanni Ponggal). On this day, importance is given to the community and to strengthening ties. Families gather together to have a sumptuous meal. Younger members seek the blessings of the older members of their families.
- The Interesting Tale behind Ponggal
Lord Shiva on the third day of Pongal, sent his bull Nandi to tell people to have an oil bath daily and eat once a month. Instead, Nandi told people to eat daily and bathe once a month. After that, angry Lord Shiva sent Nandi to earth to help humans harvest more food and that is when Pongal became a harvest festival.
Thus this brings the nutshell of how the Pongal festival is celebrated, to thank the Sun, Mother Nature, and the various farm animals that help to contribute to a bountiful harvest.