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Pongal is a four-days-long harvest festival celebrated in Tamil Nadu, a southern

state of India. For as long as people have been planting and gathering food,
there has been some form of harvest festival. Pongal, one of the most
important popular Hindu festivals of the year. This four-day festival of
thanksgiving to nature takes its name from the Tamil ord meaning !to boil! and
is held in the month of Thai "#anuary-February$ during the season hen rice
and other cereals, sugar-cane, and turmeric "an essential ingredient in Tamil
cooking$ are harvested.
%id-#anuary is an important time in the Tamil calendar. The harvest festival,
Pongal, falls typically on the &'th or the &(th of #anuary and is the
)uintessential *Tamil Festival*. Pongal is a harvest festival, a traditional
occasion for giving thanks to nature, for celebrating the life cycles that give us
grain. Tamilians say*Thai pirandhaal va+hi pirakkum*, and believe that knotty
family problems ill be solved ith the advent of the Tamil month Thai that
begins on Pongal day. This is traditionally the month of eddings. This is not a
surprise in a largely agricultural community - the riches gained from a good
harvest form the economic basis for e,pensive family occasions like eddings.
The First Day
This first day is celebrated as -hogi festival in honor of .ord Indra, the
supreme ruler of clouds that give rains. Homage is paid to .ord Indra for the
abundance of harvest, thereby bringing plenty and prosperity to the land.
/nother ritual observed on this day is -hogi %antalu, hen useless household
articles are thron into a fire made of ood and co-dung cakes. 0irls dance
around the bonfire, singing songs in praise of the gods, the spring and the
harvest. The significance of the bonfire, in hich is burnt the agricultural
astes and fireood is to keep arm during the last lap of inter.
The Second Day
1n the second day of Pongal, the pu2a or act of ceremonial orship is
performed hen rice is boiled in milk outdoors in a earthenare pot and is then
symbolically offered to the sun-god along ith other oblations. /ll people ear
traditional dress and markings, and their is an interesting ritual here husband
and ife dispose off elegant ritual utensils specially used for the pu2a. In the
village, the Pongal ceremony is carried out more simply but ith the same
devotion. In accordance ith the appointed ritual a turmeric plant is tied
around the pot in hich the rice ill be boiled. The offerings include the to
sticks of sugar-cane in background and coconut and bananas in the dish. /
common feature of the pu2a, in addition to the offerings, is the kolam, the
auspicious design hich is traditionally traced in hite lime poder before the
house in the early morning after bathing.
The Third Day
The third day is knon as %attu Pongal, the day of Pongal for cos. %ulti-
colored beads, tinkling bells, sheaves of corn and floer garlands are tied
around the neck of the cattle and then are orshiped. They are fed ith Pongal
and taken to the village centers. The resounding of their bells attract the
villagers as the young men race each other*s cattle. The entire atmosphere
becomes festive and full of fun and revelry. /rati is performed on them, so as
to ard off the evil eye. /ccording to a legend, once 3hiva asked his bull,
-asava, to go to the earth and ask the mortals to have an oil massage and bath
every day and to eat once a month. Inadvertently, -asava announced that
everyone should eat daily and have an oil bath once a month. This mistake
enraged 3hiva ho then cursed -asava, banishing him to live on the earth
forever. He ould have to plough the fields and help people produce more food.
Thus the association of this day ith cattle.
The Fourth Day
The Fourth day is knon as 4nau or 4annum Pongal day. 1n this day, a turmeric
leaf is ashed and is then placed on the ground. 1n this leaf are placed, the
left overs of seet Pongal and 5enn Pongal, ordinary rice as ell as rice colored
red and yello, betel leaves, betel nuts, to pieces of sugarcane, turmeric
leaves, and plantains. In Tamil Nadu omen perform this ritual before bathing
in the morning. /ll the omen, young and old, of the house assemble in the
courtyard. The rice is placed in the centre of the leaf, hile the omen ask
that the house and family of their brothers should prosper. /rati is performed
for the brothers ith turmeric ater, limestone and rice, and this ater is
sprinkled on the kolam in front of the house.
Pongal The Festival Celebrating Prosperity
India is a land hose primary occupation is agriculture. 6hanges in season thus
play a very important role for Indian farmers. Their lifestyles and celebrations
are thus e,clusively linked to the seasonal landmarks in an year. There are many
Indian festivals hich are in tune ith a farmers lifestyle and also ith the
seasonal variations in an year. Pongal, the harvest festival of the southern
Indian state of Tamil Nadu is one of them.
When is Pongal Celebrated?
This festival marks the beginning of the end of inter season and corresponds
to the time hen the sun is moving toards 7ttarayanam "north$ from
8akshinayanam "south$. The period is referred to as 7ttarayan Punyakalam and
is considered auspicious. /s per the Tamil calender, Pongal is celebrated four
days from the last day of the month of %arga+hi "8ecember 9 #anuary$ to the
third day of the month Thai "#anuary 9 February$. Thus, according to the
0regorian calender, Pongal is celebrated from &: to &( #anuary of hich Pongal
day or the first day of Thai falls on &' #anuary.
Common Traditions and Customs
3ome of the rituals hich are a must on Pongal are cleaning the house and
earing ne clothes. The young girls and omen ear a lehanga and half sari
respectively hereas the men are attired in lungi and angavastram on this
occasion. 8uring the Pongal season, people eat sugar canes and decorate the
houses ith kolam hich is made using rice paste. 4olams are generally made of
hite colour but one may also come across kolams made up of different colours.
/nother popular custom is e,changing gifts on Pongal. In villages, farm
labourers get ;Pongal Padi* or ;Pongal Parisu< as Pongal 0ifts. This tradition has
no moved on to other occupations as ell, ith employers giving gifts to their
employees on the occasion of Pongal. This is an opportunity to present gifts to
those among your family and friends as ell. 3ome popular yet appropriate gift
ideas on Pongal include .ord sun sculptures "on 3urya Pongal$, decoratives "on
-hogi Pongal$, ne kitchen vessels, ooden handicrafts and household goods.
The Festivities
Pongal is a festival that goes on for four days. The first day of festivities is
knon as the -ogi Pongal, herein people orship the sun god and earth. The
dish Pongal is made by boiling rice ith milk. In fact the first paddy that is
harvested is used to make Pongal. The second day is 3urya Pongal or Perum
Pongal. It is the most important day and people orship 3urya, the 3un 0od and
his consorts, 6haya and 3amgnya. 1ld articles are thron in the fire and people
have an oil massage and ear ne clothes on this day. 1n the third day of the
festival, knon as %attu Pongal, the farm animals like cattles are orshipped.
6attles are bathed and dressed beautifully and served Pongal. The fourth day is
Thiruvalluvar day or 4aanum Pongal. People visit family, friends and relatives,
omen of the house perform pu2a for the prosperity of their brothers. %any
people leave cooked rice on banana leaves for birds on this day.
The Tamil Festival
1n this occasion farmers pay their respects to the rain, sun and the farm
animals, all of hich are essentials in any harvest. /lso, since paddy and other
crops depend on the availability of good rain and Tamil Nadu does not have many
perennial ater sources, rain and sun gods are invoked during this auspicious
occasion. Pongal is also knon as !Tami+har Thirunal! "meaning !the festival of
Tamils!$. !Thai Pirandhal 5a+hi Pirakkum! hich means that !birth of the Thai
month ill pave ay for ne opportunities! is a common saying in reference to
Thai Pongal () or Pongal () is a harvest festival celebrated by Tamil people at the end
of the harvest season.
Pongal is a four day festival which usually takes place from January 13 to 1 in
the !regorian calendar i.e." the last day of the Tamil month #aarga$hi to the third day of Tamil
month Thai.
The second of the four days i.e." first day of the Tamil month Thai is the second and main day of the
festival and this day is known as Thai Pongal. This day coincides with#akara %ankranthi which is a
winter harvest festival celebrated throughout &ndia. The day marks the start of sun's si()month long
*ourney northwards or the +ttarayanam. This also represents the &ndic solstice when the sun purportedly
enters the 1,th house of the &ndian $odiac i.e. #akara or -apricorn.
&t is one of the most important festivals celebrated by the Tamil people in the &ndian state of Tamil .adu"
the &ndian +nion Territory of Puducherry"
and %ri 0anka.
&n Tamil" the word Pongal means 1overflowing1 which signifies abundance and prosperity. 2n the day of
Pongal" at the time of sun rise there is a symbolic ritual of boiling fresh milk in a new clay pots and when
the milk boils over and bubbles out of the vessel" people shout 1Pongalo Pongal31
They also say 1Thai
Pirandhal 5a$hi Pirakkum1 meaning 1the commencement of Thai paves the way for new opportunities1 is
often 6uoted regarding the Pongal festival. Thai Pongal is mainly celebrated to convey the appreciation
and thankfulness to the %un as it act as the primary energy behind agriculture and a good harvest. &t is
the %urya #angalyam. Tamilians decorate their homes with banana and mango leaves and embellish the
floor with decorative patterns drawn using rice flour.
Name Region
Thai Pongal Tamil .adu
#akara %ankranthi
7ndhra Pradesh" 8engal" 9erala" 8ihar" !oa" 9arnataka" 2rissa" #adhya
Pradesh" #aharashtra" #anipur" +ttar Pradesh
+ttarayana !u*arat and :a*asthan
0ohri ;aryana" ;imachal Pradesh and Pun*ab
#agh 8ihu<8hogali 8ihu 7ssam
#aghe %ankranti or #akar
The history may well be more than 1,,, years old although some are of the view that the festival is older
than that. =pigraphic =vidence suggests the celebration of the Puthiyeedu during the #edieval
-hola empire days. &t is thought that Puthiyeedu meant the first harvest of the year.
The link between
that past and today?s harvest festival needs to be further researched. Tamils refer to Pongal as 1Tami$har
Thirunaal1 @meaning 1the festival of Tamils1A
#akara %ankranti in turn is referred to in the %urya
Thai refers to the name of the tenth month in the Tamil calendar" Thai @A. Pongal in Tamil generally
refers to festivityB
more specifically Pongal means 1boiling over1 or 1overflow1.Pongal is also the name of
a sweetened dish of rice boiled with lentils which is ritually consumed on this day.
%ymbolically" pongal signifies the warming i.e. boiling of the season as the %un travels northward towards
the e6uino(.
Bhogi Pandigai / Bhogi Pallu / Lohri /
The day preceding Pongal is called Bhogi when people discard old things and focus on new
belongings. The disposal of derelict things is similar to Holika in North India. The people
assemble at dawn in Tamil Nadu to light a bonfire to discard old used possessions. The house is
cleaned, painted and decorated to give a festive look. In villages, the horns of oxen and buffaloes
are painted in colors and people celebrate it in a grand way as most of them would have their
harvest ready or even would have made money out of the harvests.
This tradition is observed on the same day in ndhra Pradesh where it is also called !"hogi.!
The fruits from the harvest are collected #such as regi pallu and sugar cane$, along with flowers
of the season, in a ceremony calledBhogi Pallu %oney is often placed into a mixture of "hogi
Pallu, and the mixture is poured over children, who then collect the money and sweet fruits.
This day is celebrated in Pun&ab as Lohri and in ssam as %agh "ihu ' Bhogali Bihu.
Pongal Pandigai
Newly cooked rice and savouries prepped for celebrating pongal.
Pongal itself falls on the first day of the Tamil month of Thai #(anuary )* or )+$. It is celebrated
by boiling rice in new clay pots. The rice is later topped with sugar, ghee, cashew nuts and
raisins. This tradition gives Pongal its name. The rice is traditionally cooked at sun rise.
The moment the milk boils over and bubbles out of the vessel, the tradition is to shout of
!Pongalo Pongal,!, introduce freshly harvested rice grains in the pot and blow
the sanggu #aconch$. Tamils consider it a good sign to watch the milk boil over as it connotes
good luck and prosperity. The newly cooked rice is traditionally offered to the -un .od at
sunrise to demonstrate gratitude for the harvest. It is later served to the people present in the
house for the ceremony. People prepare savories and sweets such as vadai, murukku, paayasam,
visit each other and exchange greetings.
9olam drawn in front of houses
Tamils draw kolams<rangolis on the door step" consume sugar cane" prepare sweetened rice" milk and
*aggery in new earthen pots and dedicate it to %un !od. The family elders present gifts to the young.
=lsewhere in &ndia" there is kite flying in !u*arat and 7ndhra" the Jahangir Dance in Pun*ab and the
!anga %agar #ela in 8engal. #illions of people immerse themselves in rivers in .orth &ndia and offer
prayers to the %un !od ) %uryan. People offer thousands of their colorful oblations to the %un in the form
of beautiful kites.
The %un stands for EPratyaksha 8rahmanF ) the manifest !od" who symboli$es the one" non)dual" self)
effulgent" glorious divinity blessing one and all tirelessly. The %un is the one who transcends time and
also the one who rotates the proverbial wheel of time.
"aat# Pongal[edit]
9olam drawn for #aatu Pongal
Gouths trying to take control of a bull at a *allikattu event in7langanallur
-attle play an important role in the traditional &ndian farmstead be it with regards to the provision of dairy
products" its use for ploughing and transport and its provision of fertili$er. This e(plains the Tamil
reference to cattle as wealth. 2n the day after Pongal" cattle are felicitated. &n rural Tamil .adu"
adventurous games such as the Jallikkattu or taming the wild bull are features of the day. #aattu Pongal
is intended to demonstrate our recognition and affection to cattle and decorate them with garlands" apply
kungumam @kumkumA on their foreheads and are feed with a mi(ture of venn pongal"
*aggery"honey"banana and other fruits
9anu Pidi is a tradition that the ladies and young girls of the house follow. Homen feed birds and pray for
the well being of their brothers. Homen of the family place different kinds of coloured rice" cooked
vegetables" banana and sweet pongal on a ginger or turmeric leaf and invite the crows" which descend in
hordes to share and en*oy the 19aka pidi" 9anu pidi1 feast. Homen offer prayers in the hope that the
brother)sister ties may remain forever strong like the family of crows.
#aatu pongal is a festival celebrated together by the villagers to thank the cows for their favour in
farming. People bathe their cattle and paint their horns with colourful paints. &n the evening people offer
prayings to 0ord !anesh made out of mud
[clarification needed]
and all the cattle of the village are gathered
together and are decorated with garland" man*althanni @turmeric waterA only for cows" oil" shikakai"
kumkum is applied on the forehead and fed with a mi(ture of venn pongal" Jaggery" honey" fruits etc. 7t
the people torch out of coconut leaves and burn with fire and run around cattles thrice and run to the
border of the village and drop their"
[clarification needed]
this ritual is performed to remove all Drishti
[disambiguation needed]
$aan#m Pongal[edit]
This is a time for family reunions in Tamil .adu. Ialling on the third day of the Pongal festivities" brothers
pay special tribute to their married sisters by giving gifts as affirmation of their filial love. 0andlords
present gifts of food" clothes and money to their workforce. During Kaanum Pongal @the word kaanum in
this conte(t means 1to visit1A" people visit relatives and friends to en*oy the festive season. &n the cities
this day is synonymous with people flocking to beaches and theme parks to have a day out with their
families. They also chew sugar cane and decorate their houses with kolam. This day is a day to thank
relatives and friends for their support in the harvest. 7lthough it started as a farmers festival" today it has
become a national festival for all Tamils irrespective of their origins or even religion. &t is as popular
in urban areas as is in rural areas.This festival also marks the end of the Pongal festivities for the year.
&n 7ndhra Pradesh" #ukkanuma" the final day of %ankranthi festival" is celebrated to worship cattle.
#ukkanuma is famous among the non)vegetarians of the society. People do not eat any non)vegetarian
dishes during the first three days of the festival and eat it only on the day of #ukkanuma.
Pongal %ishes and &reetings[edit]
&n Tamil people wish each other ;appy Pongal saying 'niya Pongal Nalva(hth#))al (
)which in =nglish means ;appy Pongal or by saying Pongal *a(hth#))al (
) which in =nglish means Pongal Hishes or Pongal !reetings.
3ince India is mainly a land of agrarian society, the festival of Pongal is observed in different regions, under
different names ith different rituals in different parts of India.
There are many harvest festivals celebrated here. This festival is celebrated all over India on the same day,
but has different names in each region. Hoever, being a harvest festival, bonfires and feasts are the main
thing common to all the celebrations of Pongal festival. 8iscussed here are the various names of Pongal
prevalent in India and their uni)ue ay of celebration.
Other Names of Pongal
In the south, people have the festival of Pongal, hich is celebrated over four days. The nely harvested rice
is cooked and this preparation goes by the name Pongal.
Maar Sanranti
In the North Indian states of India, people celebrate this day as %akar 3ankranti. The most e,citing thing
about this festival is the kite flying. People believe that the direction of the ind changes on that day, and so
they all come out into the streets to fly colorful kites and capture as many as possible.
1n 4aanum Pongal, elaborate podered chalk designs of the sun god, 3urya are dran. /s soon as the
auspicious month of Thai is underay, 3urya is orshiped.
In Pun2ab, people celebrate .ohri in #anuary on hat they believe is the coldest day of the year. =ith the cold
inds bloing they celebrate by dancing the bhangra around a fire, hich is fed ith sugarcane, rice and
sesame seeds. People sing folk songs that tell of a good harvest, hich is a blessing from the gods.
#ihu $ #ohaggiyo #hishu
This is the greatest festival of the /ssamese people, ho observe three -ihus. The three -ihus, constitute a
festival comple, and are celebrated at various stages of the cultivation of paddy, the principal crop of /ssam.
The first day is -hogi and is in honor of Indra the god of rain. There are many legends told about this day. The
day begins ith a til "sesame$ oil bath and in the evening there is a bonfire in hich all the rubbish in the house
is burnt.
Thai Pongal
This is a harvest festival - the Tamil e)uivalent of Thanksgiving. It is held to honor the 3un, for a bountiful
harvest. Families gather to re2oice and share their 2oy and their harvests ith others.
Poi festival
The first day is the Poki festival during hich old things are removed and discarded. 3ince rain plays a very
important part in our lives, naturally rain is revered and the first day*s celebration is appropriately called Poki
%adaga Festival
The Hadaga festival in %aharashtra is to pray for a good monsoon and a good harvest. /s Indra is the god of
rain, people sing songs to Indra and pray for rain. Pictures of the elephant hich is Indra*s vehicle are dran
everyhere to invite the 0od.
History o+ Pongal
Pongal is an ancient festival of people in 3outh India particularly Tamils. The
history of the festival can be traced back to the 3angam /ge i.e. :>> -.6. To
?>> /.8. /lthough, Pongal originated as a 8ravidian Harvest festival and has a
mention in 3anskrit Puranas, historians identify the festival ith the Thai
&nand Thai Niradal hich are believed to have been celebrated during the
3angam /ge.
Observance of Pongal During the Sangam 'ra (Thai
The celebrations of 3angam @ra led to today*s Pongal celebrations. /s part of
the festivities, maidens of the 3angam era observed *Pavai Nonbu* at the time
ofThai Niradal hich as a ma2or festival during the reign of the Pallavas "'th
to Ath 6entury /8$. It as observed during the Tamil month of %arga+hi
"8ecember-#anuary$. 8uring this festival young girls prayed for rain and
prosperity of the country. Throughout the month, they avoided milk and milk
products. They ould not oil their hair and refrained from using harsh ords
hile speaking. =omen used to bath early in the morning. They orshiped the
idol of 0oddess 4atyayani, hich ould be carved out of et sand. They ended
their penance on the first day of the month of Thai "#anuary-February$. This
penance as to bring abundant rains to flourish the paddy. These traditions and
customs of ancient times gave rise to Pongal celebrations.
/ndal*s Tiruppavai and %anickavachakar*s Tiruvembavai vividly describe the
festival of Thai Niradal and the ritual of observing Pavai Nonbu. /ccording to
an inscription found in the 5eeraraghava temple at Tiruvallur, the 6hola 4ing
4iluttunga used to gift lands to the temple specially for the Pongal
"egends of Pongal
3ome legendary stories are also associated ith Pongal festival celebrations.
The to most popular legends of Pongal are stories related to .ord 3hiva and
.ord Indra.
/ccording to a legend, once 3hiva asked his bull, -asava, to go to the earth and
ask the mortals to have an oil massage and bath every day and to eat once a
month. Inadvertently, -asava announced that everyone should eat daily and have
an oil bath once a month. This mistake enraged 3hiva ho then cursed -asava,
banishing him to live on the earth forever. He ould have to plough the fields
and help people produce more food. Thus the association of this day ith
/nother legend of .ord Indra and .ord 4rishna also led to Pongal celebrations.
It is said hen .ord 4rishna ere in his childhood, he decided to teach a lesson
to .ord Indra ho became arrogant after becoming the king of all deities. .ord
4rishna asked all the coherds to stop orshiping .ord Indra. This angered
.ord Indra and sent forth his clouds f
%istory of Pongal
Pongal Celebrations
/ccording to Hindu mythology, this is hen the day of the gods begins, after a si,-month long night. The
festival is spread over three days and is the most important and most fervently-celebrated harvest festival of
3outh India. / special pu2a is performed on the first day of Pongal before the cutting of the paddy. Farmers
orship the sun and the earth by anointing their ploughs and sickles ith sandal ood paste. It is ith these
consecrated tools that the nely-harvested rice is cut.
@ach of the three days are marked by different festivities. The first day, -hogi Pongal, is a day for the family.
3urya Pongal, the second day, is dedicated to the orship of 3urya, the 3un 0od. -oiled milk and 2aggery is
offered to the 3un 0od. The third day of Pongal, %attu Pongal, is for orship of the cattle knon as %attu.
6attle are bathed, their horns polished and painted in bright colors, and garlands of floers placed around
their necks. The Pongal that has been offered to the 0ods is then given to cattle and birds to eat.