Pongal (Hindu Festival) celebration in Chennai, Tamil Nadu


Tamil Nadu is the state of traditional values and mythological stories. A countless number of celebrations and festivals are observed in the state for various reasons and on various seasons. Mythological importance is hidden behind the festivals with interesting stories narrating the reason for observing the same. The article is very much bonafide giving valuable information with all faith and responsibility. Considering the Pongal festival, the related celebrations are very interesting particularly in Tamil Nadu the festival comprises of a four-day celebration with colorful ‘’Rangoli’’ throughout the houses, overall.  ‘’Rangoli’’ is the special set of designing the floor of houses with specific powders of different colors. Ancient days, people used fine powder of rice flour to design but recent practice involves the use of artificial chemical colors to make the ‘’kolamaavu’’.

Actual Meaning      

Coming back to the celebration of Pongal, nook and corner of Tamil Nadu owe observing Pongal celebration. The festival is observed as a token of thanks-giving to Lord Surya.
In other words, the festival is celebrated as the symbol of harvest. Especially, the farmers are much gratified in particular function. Farmers end up their process of farming with the final step of harvesting that is the productivity yielded in the cropping season. As the yield of harvesting is dedicated to Lord Surya that is considered as the primary god of farming, Pongal is called a festival of harvesting. People take the pleasure of thanking their beloved god for helping them in the cultivation to harvesting. The festival is known as ‘’Mahara Sankaranti’’ in north India whereas known as ‘’Thai Pongal’’ or ‘’Thamilar thirunaal’’ in the state of Tamil Nadu.

Bhoghi/Bhobhi/Wood Fire
Source: Unsplash

The month of the festival

Every year, the 13th or 14th day of January is observed as ‘’Thai Pongal’’ in other words, Pongal is the beginning of the Tamil month ‘’Thai’’. The festival begins the previous day that is the last day of ‘’Maargalzhi’’ the previous Tamil month of ‘’Thai’’.

Significance of the previous day

The day before Pongal is subjected to cleaning purposes. It is called as ‘’bhohi’’ that is meant as burning the old and unwanted garbage of last year. This process is carried out to wipe out the household debris that retained the whole year. Tamil Nadu begins the process of celebrating by warming up the house for the Pongal celebration on this day.

Scientific truth for observing Pongal

Beyond the mythological and interesting superstitions, there exists the scientific truth for observing Pongal, according to Tamil belief. Based on that, the position of the sun is calculated by ancient Tamil people as it travels from tropic of cancer to the tropic of Capricorn that is the tenth place of Indian Zodiac ‘’Mahara Raasi’’ meant in Tamil astrology and Indian astrology as well. Thai Pongal begins the start of the journey by the sun northwards which is known as ‘’uttrayanam’’ and is Indic solstice.

Method of celebration

Thai Pongal owns its peculiar method of celebration that follows the initial arrangements for the auspicious day. Pongal means to ‘’boil over’’ or ‘’spillover’’ considered as the sign of prosperity. Remote villagers’ concern much the direction that the spillover occurs in the cooking pot of Pongal. Usually, earthenware pots or copper mixed metal pots are chosen for preparation. Wood made fire involves in the preparation and the whole process gets finished at the time of sunrise.

Pongal Celebration

A summary of the process involves the following steps:

  • Earthen pot or copper mixed metal pot is chosen for making the Pongal.
  • Making Pongal will take place in the open air at dawn of January 13 or 14.
  • It is believed by the people to complete the process before sunrise as the thanksgiving gets completed.
  • Usually, sweet Pongal is made for ‘Thai Pongal’ festival but part of people make another pot(s) of plain Pongal in one or two more pots.
  • Once the whole process of preparation got over, the dish is offered to god and the front-facing sun. Pooja followed by other rituals are carried out.
  •  The prepared sweet and plain Pongal is kept in front of ‘’vilakku’’. Farmers and other civilians use to present vegetables and preparation in front of ‘’vilakku’’ as the sign of offering to the god.
  • The whole process gets completed at sunrise hence for the purpose the process begins at 3.30 to 4.00 AM and the particular time is framed as auspicious for preparation and prayer.
  • While most of the villagers carry out the method of preparing Pongal at open-air but some of the urban civilians are known to observe the method at their kitchen.
  • Once the pooja ritual got over at open-air then the whole preparation is taken back to home and the sweet Pongal is distributed to home mates.
  • With the distribution of sweet Pongal, the initial part of the celebration ends with. Pongal is the auspicious day not only to thanks-giving for god but also the days are attributed to recall the forefathers of the family.

Readers should recall at this point that one or two pots of plain Pongal that is made at dawn are offered to the forefathers while the pooja ritual carried out at prayer hall inside the house. So, ‘’Thai Pongal’’ is the best and auspicious day to thank god and to recall the forefathers of their own family.

South India is known for celebrating ‘Thai Pongal’ particularly Tamil Nadu is very well notified of observing the festival. With the celebration of Pongal, the initial day of celebration ends up followed by the third of Pongal. This third day of celebration is dedicated to the poultry beings that are helpful to mankind while at farming. Farmers pay their utmost tribute to their fellow pet poultry beings that play a major role in the field of cropping. A grand day of celebration takes place on the second day involving the courageous act of Bullfight that is termed as ‘’manji virattu’’ calling upon the youngsters to retrieve the ferocious ox unleashed in the ring.

Descriptive note of ‘’Mattu Pongal’’

As already told above, ‘’Mattu Pongal’’ is the next auspicious day of celebrating Pongal festival. This day is attributed completely to the poultry pets and companions accompanying human beings in the field of farming. The oxen that are indulged in farming are given a special bath rather than the difference in the usual bath. The two horns of the ox are painted colorfully. Pooja rituals are carried especially for the animal as a token of thanks. On this special day, again a pot of Pongal is prepared and offered to the animal as a sign of love and gratitude.

Youth Revolution

Manji virattu is the brave and ferocious act of a play that took place almost a year. The animal or the man is gratified with grand prizes for defeating the other in the play. In Tamil Nadu, ‘’Manji Virattu’’ takes place to held at Alanganallur near Madurai, the temple City. Despite the ferocious play, ‘’Rekla race’’ and marathon also held along with. All these thrilling stunts and actions are carried as a tribute to the ox. Manji virattu also known as ‘’Jallikattu’’ was banned by the Government of Tamil Nadu throughout the State.

Cows sacrifice

The sport was considered causing endangers to youngsters and animals as well who take part in it. By the year 2017, as a result of the ‘’youth revolution’’ carried away by the youths of Tamil Nadu supporting the Jalli Kattu and propounding the importance of the sport in the existence of breed, the sport was again enacted to play on Pongal festive days. Apart from Alanganallur, some other cities of Southern Tamil Nadu are supposed to carry out the courageous sport and even today the sport is held with great support and fame along with passion towards saving the breed of Country Oxen.

All over the world, the 2017 youth revolution got a reach and support to the sport ‘’Jalli Kattu’’ was tremendous. The revolution was aspired by people do not belong to the Tamil breed. Of Course! People belong to foreign nativity also supported ‘Jalli Kattu’’ along with Tamil people throughout the world.

The myth of Mattu Pongal

Just like other festivals, ‘’Mattu Pongal’’ also carries its own mythological stories told by the old people from every village. They narrate the story that once Lord Shiva sent Nandi from heaven to reach out to the earth and deliver a message of him to the people. As per his message, people should take an oil bath every day and eat once in a month but due to the absence of mind, Nandi delivered the message reciprocally to eat every day and take an oil bath once a month. Getting furious and fitting into a rage, Lord Shiva punished Nandi to stay on earth permanently and help fellow humans in farming to prepare enough food for them. Thus, the reason oxen become part of farming and help farmers in all their activities. This interesting myth reveals the utility of cattle in farming.

Kanu Pongal

The Kanu Pongal is the fourth day of a four-day celebration in the Pongal Festival. The day is observed as ‘’Thiruvalluvar Dhinam’’ in the name of ‘’Thiruvalluvar’’ a renowned poet. This day is so favorable to held ‘’Jalli Kattu’’ as a continuity of the previous day. The special day is meant to relax after the terrific celebration and workload of ‘’Thai Pongal’’ and the day is specialized by visiting the neighbor, relatives and friend’s houses. This Kanu Pongal is the last and final day of the four-day celebration and is observed on the third day of Tamil month ‘’Thai’’. Every year Tamil Nadu as a whole celebrate the Pongal festival with full of joy, enthusiasm, and passion. The festival is known as the sign of Tamil natives and is being the identity of the Tamil all over the world.

Dishes and recipes

Any festival or occasion is followed by the finger-licking tasty recipes or the spicy dishes along with. Tamil Nadu is known for spicy and tasty recipes and dishes and idly stands for universal instance. Idly along with sambar is the unbeatable combination of food recipe that is appreciably intake by people other than Tamils throughout the world. Particularly speaking about dishes rather Idly & Sambar, Pongal stands as best to alter. ‘’Ven Pongal’’ is the hot and spicy dish that takes the running up position after Idly & Sambar.

The article is all about the Pongal either plain or sweet Pongal has been dealt yet before but speaking about the ven Pongal is something spicy and tasty one. Most of the hotels, occasional spots like weddings, engagements and other functional occasions hold ‘’ven Pongal’’ in the list of Menu. And to that extent, the dish attracts the hearts of people. Remarkably, the ‘’Ulundhu Vadai’’ makes a fantastic combination of the dish and gives an unforgettable memory to the one that intakes the dish for the very first time.

For the ease of readers other than Tamil, the author of the article would like to give a quick recipe for ‘’Ven Pongal’’ along with Ulundhu Vadai. The former one is made with rice and the Moong Dhal cooked or boiled fine. Pepper is roasted in the heated ghee to give an excellent aroma. Basal leaves, grated ginger and chilly are added to give increasing taste and ability to digest. The dish is combined with sambar and Ulundhu Vadai.

Not on the occasion of Pongal but also the other ordinary days is suitable for making the dish. Most probable to take the dish is better to take it as breakfast. Particularly, on the Pongal occasion, the fine grown sugar cane is taken as a whole. The fine juice oozes out when a piece of sugarcane is bite gives different feelings and tastes. The juice is not made of artificial colors and flavors but makes a natural drink with full of energy. The juice contains original sugar level from which white sugar is refined throughout, that much tasty.

Recipe for sweet Pongal

The sweet Pongal is known as ‘’Sarkari Pongal’’ in Tamil and the method of preparation is as follows.

The boil over rice that is the plain Pongal is blended once again to which the melted jaggery is incorporated. Keep on mixing the blended boil over rice and jaggery mix gives fully blended sweet Pongal to which the roasted cashew nuts, cardamom and other dry fruits like black grapes are added. A sufficient quantity of ghee is used for roasting purpose and to give rich aroma to the dish. The dish is recommended to eat when hot but also sweeter to eat cool enough. This sweet Pongal is made not only on Pongal day but also on other public and private occasions like the wedding day and birthday.

Dresses and outfits

Another important factor that takes a major role in celebrating the harvesting festival is the outfits or the dresses worn by celebrities. Ladies prefer the traditional wear saree probably the silk saree or some other fancy saree whereas the gents prefer Dhoties that are available as well gro readymade. Other than traditional wear, latest designs and fairest collections are highly suitable for both men and women. All regarding the dresses for kids are something special and cute. Farmers do not prefer much about dresses usually but for the festival like Pongal even they do better outfit wearing.

Calendar for Pongal festival 2020 and fore coming years can be obtained from online Google store. But the astrological based calendar or any other tools are used to know the day on which exactly the harvesting festival falls. With the help of astrologers and elders in the house, the day is getting known. The readers can go through the article as a whole to know more about the Pongal festival and the related observation and celebration.

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