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Pritha Manchanda Jan 09 2014

What is the Pongal Festival in India all about?

Jigyasha Prasad Dec 17 2014
1 person found this answer useful Useful ?Yes

Pongal, one of the most famous festivals in India, is the country's equivalent of Thanksgiving. In Tamil Nadu, the festival is a four-day extravaganza. Of course, the best way to witness the celebrations is to head to the rural areas. A homestay is ideal. Madurai, Kumbakonam, Chidambaram, and Tirunelveli are some of the areas where a glimpse into the rural life and celebrations can be experienced. This year it is being held between 15-19 January.

Pongal Celebration (by Balaji.B (1.8 Million Views and Growing))

Bhogi - the First Day

Bhogi Pongal, the first day of the Pongal festival dedicated to the worship of the rain God Indra, is a much awaited event. On this the day, the locals throw away old materials and clothes into a fire and the ritual marks the beginning of a new life. Girls, all decked up in traditional attire, dance around the bonfire, singing songs in praise of the gods, the spring season and the harvest.

Pongal Rangoli (by Raji.srinivas)

Thai Pongal/Surya Pongal--the Second Day

It is on the second day, Thai Pongal, that the traditional Pongal, a sweet dish made of jaggery, rice, milk garnished with raisins and cashew nuts, is cooked. The dish is offered to the Sun God and then eaten. This delicious preparation is made in all homes with much enthusiasm. Sugar cane is an integral part of the festival, symbolizing a good harvest.

A typical Pongal Preparation (by Kamala L)

Traditionally, the entire ceremony is conducted in the courtyard with a richly decorated kolam adorning the floor. People also prepare savories and sweets, visit each other's homes, and exchange greetings.

Pongal Celebration (by Alagu)

Mattu Pongal-the Third Day

The third day of the celebrations is Mattu Pongal. On this day, domestic animals–cows and bullocks–are honoured. They are usually decked out in fancy decorations and their horns are painted--making them a sight to behold. Bullock cart races are organized in many parts of Tamil Nadu. Jallikattu, a dangerous sport of taming of the bull, is organized at Palamedu.

Drawing on Mattu Pongal (by Rotatebot)

Bull-taming, jallikattu, is a centuries-old tradition in Alanganallur, one of the famous cities of Tamil Nadu. A thousand maddened bulls, bull-tamers armed with sticks, more than 10,000 people packed in the backyard of a small village temple, and no rules. Only one man can tame an animal, that is, hang on to its hump for 50 m as the bull bucks to throw him off.

Bull taming on Pongal (by lamkarna)

Kanum Pongal-The Fourth Day

The last of the 4-day celebrations, Kanum Pongal is a fun day for the locals. On this day, a turmeric leaf is washed and is then placed on the ground. The leaf contains small portions of plain rice, betel nuts, betel leaves, coloured rice, turmeric leaves, plantains, two pieces of sugarcane and the leftovers of venn pongal and sweet pongal. This is the day when people usually go out on a picnic or have get-togethers.

Pongal Dish (by Raksh1tha)

Don’t forget to make a trip to Tamil Nadu during the month of January if you want to be a part of all the activity and fun associated with this festival. Check for your PNR status before leaving.

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