||This article may require copy editing for grammar, style, cohesion, tone, or spelling. (September 2013)|
|Type||Festival, Tamil People Tamil Nadu, India. Sri Lankan Tamils, Sri Lanka|
Harvest festival. Thanking the Sun God for agricultural abundance4 days long
|Celebrations||Feasting, gift-giving, visiting homes|
|Date||First day of the tenth month of Thai in the Tamil calendar|
|2015 date||15 January|
Thai Pongal (Tamil: தை பொங்கல்) is a Tamil harvest festival.  Pongal covers four days that usually takes place from January 13 to 16 in the Gregorian calendar i.e., the last day of the Tamil month Maargazhi to the third day of Tamil month Thai. It is one of the most important festivals celebrated by Tamil people in the Indian state of Tamil Nadu, the Indian Union Territory of Puducherry, and Sri Lanka. This day coincides with Makara Sankranthi which is a winter harvest festival celebrated throughout India. The day marks the start of sun’s six-month long journey northwards or the Uttarayanam. This also represents the Indic solstice when the sun purportedly enters the 10th house of the Indian zodiac i.e. Makara or Capricorn.Thai Pongal is mainly celebrated to convey the appreciation and thankfulness to the Sun God as it provides the energy for agriculture. It is the Surya Mangalyam.
The festival may be some 1000 years old or even older. Epigraphic evidence suggests the celebration of the Puthiyeedu during the Medieval Chola empire days. Puthiyeedu evidently meant the first harvest of the year. Tamil people refer to Pongal as "Tamizhar Thirunaal" (meaning "the festival of Tamizhs"). Makara Sankranti in turn is referred to in the Surya Siddhanta.
Thai refers to the name of the tenth month in the Tamil calendar, Thai (தை). Pongal generally refers to festivity; more specifically Pongal means "boiling over" or "overflow".Pongal is also the name of a sweetened dish of rice boiled with lentils that is ritually consumed on this day. Symbolically, pongal signifies the warming/boiling of the season as the Sun travels northward towards the equinox.
This day coincides with Makara Sankranthi celebrated throughout India.
|Thai Pongal||Tamil Nadu
|Makara Sankranthi||Andhra Pradesh, Bengal, Kerala, Bihar, Goa, Karnataka, Orissa, Madhya Pradesh, Maharashtra, Manipur,Telangana Uttar Pradesh
|Uttarayana||Gujarat and Rajasthan
|Lohri||Haryana, Himachal Pradesh and Punjab
|Magh Bihu/Bhogali Bihu||Assam
|Maghe Sankranti or Makar Sankranti||Nepal|
Besides rice and milk the ingredients of this sweet dish include cardamom, jaggery, raisins, Green gram (split), and cashew nuts. Cooking is done in sunlight, usually in a porch or courtyard, as the dish is dedicated to the Sun god, Surya. The cooking is done in a clay pot that is decorated with coloured patterns called kolam. Pongal has two variants, one sweet and one savoury. The dish is served on banana leaves.
Cooking pongal is a traditional practice at Hindu temples during any Temple Festival in Tamil Nadu.
Days of the festivalEdit
The day preceding Pongal is called Bhogi. One this day people discard old things and focus on new belongings. The disposal of worn-out things is similar to Holika in North India. The people assemble at dawn in Tamil Nadu to light a bonfire to consumer the discards. Houses are cleaned, painted and decorated to give a festive look. In villages, the horns of oxen and buffaloes are painted in colors.
This tradition is observed on the same day in Andhra Pradesh, where it is also called Bhogi. The fruits of the harvest are collected (such as regi pallu and sugar cane), along with flowers of the season, in a ceremony called Bhogi Pallu. Money is often placed into a mixture of Bhogi Pallu, and the mixture is poured over children, who then collect the money and sweet fruits.
The second of the four days is the main event and is also known as Thai Pongal. This day coincides with Makara Sankranthi, a winter harvest festival celebrated throughout India. The day marks the start of the Uttarayanam. It represents the Indic solstice when the sun purportedly enters the 10th house of the Indian zodiac i.e. Makara or Capricorn.
In Tamil, the word Pongal means "overflowing", signifying abundance and prosperity.
When the milk bubbles out of the vessel,freshly harvested rice grains are added to the pot, while while others blow the sanggu (a conch) and shout "Pongalo Pongal!" They also say "Thai Pirandhal Vazhi Pirakkum" meaning "the commencement of Thai paves the way for new opportunities". This is often spoken during the Pongal festival. Pongal is served to to everyone in the house along with savories and sweets such as vadai, murukku, paayasam.
Tamilians decorate their homes with banana and mango leaves and embellish the floor with decorative patterns drawn using rice flour. kolams/rangolis are drawn on doorsteps. Family elders present gifts to the young.
The Sun stands for "Pratyaksha Brahman" - the manifest God, who symbolizes the one, non-dual, self-effulgent, glorious divinity blessing one and all tirelessly. The Sun is the one who transcends time and also the one who rotates the proverbial wheel of time.
Maatu Pongal is the day after Thai Pongal. Tamil's regard cattle as wealth for their dairy products, use for ploughing and transport and provision of fertilizer. On the day after Pongal, cattle are celebrated with games such as the Jallikkattu and taming wild bulls are features of the day. Maattu Pongal is intended to demonstrate recognition and affection to cattle.
Kanu Pidi is a tradition of the ladies and young girls. Women feed birds and pray for their brothers' well being. They place different kinds of coloured rice, cooked vegetables, banana and sweet pongal on a ginger or turmeric leaf for crows to share and enjoy the "Kaka pidi, Kanu pidi" feast. Women offer prayers in the hope that brother-sister ties remain forever strong as in a family of crows.
Celebrants bathe and decorate their cattle with garlands, manjalthanni (turmeric water) only for cows, oil, shikakai apply kungumam (kumkum) to their foreheads, paint their horns and feed them a mixture of venn pongal, jaggery, honey, banana and other fruits. In the evening people pray to Lord Ganesh. One ritual is to light a torch of coconut leaves and carry it around cattle three times and then run to the border of the village to drop it. This removes the evil influences caused by the jealousy of other people over the cattle.
The word kaanum in this context means "to visit". Many families hold reunions on this day. Brothers pay special tribute to their married sisters by giving gifts as affirmation of their filial love. Landlords present gifts of food, clothes and money to their workers. Villagers visit relatives and friends. In the cities on this day people flock to beaches and theme parks with their families. They chew sugar cane and again decorate their houses with kolam. Relatives and friends receive thanks for their support in the harvest. This day marks the end of Pongal festivities for the year.
In Andhra Pradesh, Mukkanuma, the final day of Sankranthi festival, is celebrated to worship cattle. Mukkanuma is famous among non-vegetarians. People do not eat non-vegetarian dishes during the first three days of the festival, saving them for the day of Mukkanuma.
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- Pongal Harvest Festival
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