Sunday, January 13, 2013


FESTIVAL IN TAMIL NADU, INDIA - Pongal is a very important Hindu festival which is celebrated with great joy in Tamil Nadu, India. Also known as the Tamil harvest festival, Pongal is a four day long festival for thanking the nature. Pongal falls in the harvesting month of January-February (season when rice, sugarcane, other cereals are harvested). The four days of the Tamil harvest festival commences with Bhagi festival and goes till Knau or Kannum Pongal day . Now, lets brief out the four days of the Pongal festival. 
First day: On the first day of Pongal, people pay homage to the supreme ruler or lord of weather (thunder, rain and storm), Lord Indra. Tamilians worship Lord Indra and thank him for the abundance of harvest that happened due to rain and air. Devotees pray for prosperity of the land for the next harvest. Even Bhogi Mantalu is observed on the first day of Pongal (when people discard old things and focus on new belongings). Waste household items are burned in a bonfire (made with cow dung cakes and wood).

Second day: On the second day, the Puja is performed. Rice is boiled in a pot of milk. This is done outdoors in an earthenware pot. A turmeric plant is tied up around the pot. The place is decorated with Kolam. Rice, two sticks of sugarcane, bananas and coconut are then offered to Lord Sun. After worshiping the Sun, the utensils that were used to prepare the offerings are disposed out of the house. 
Third day: Commonly known as Mattu Pongal, it is the day for cows. The cows are decorated with tingling bells (tied around the neck), flower garlands and colourful beads and then worshiped. The cows are offered the pongal (the dish which has been prepared) and then taken to nearby areas. After offering Pongal, women perform Aarti to ward off evil eyes. Fourth day: This last day is known as Knau, Karinaal or Kannum Pongal day. On this day, people meet their relatives and friends. People gift each other, especially workers and farmers are gifted and appreciated for their hard work.

Pongal is a Hindu harvest festival which is a four days long celebrations. Typically, Pongal falls on 14-15 January and apart from thanking the nature, it is also a month of weddings. The place where Puja is performed is decorated with "Kolam", the traditional white lime powder used outside the house every morning after bathing. As regards the Mattu Pongal or day for cows, it is believed that Lord Shiva once asked his bull (Basava) to go to the earth and ask the mortals to eat once in a month and have an oil massage followed by bath regularly. But, Basava told people they should eat every day and bath once in a month. According to Amrisha Agarwal, author of this article, Lord Shiva cursed Basava and banished him to live on earth forever. Since then, Basava should plough the fields and help the farmers. Onam, Pongal, Makar Sankranti, and Baisakhi are regional festivals, mainly associated with their respective harvest season in India.

Regional festivals are many in the Hindu culture. In addition to the common national festivals, Hindus have many festivals that are unique to their own regions. These regional celebrations are often associated with the harvest season and also mark the beginning of the New Year. As the harvest season differs in various parts of the country, the regional New Year days are also many and, as such, have no official sanction. The importance of agriculture in Hindu society is clearly visible on such occasions. The diversity of the festivals is based on the original ethnic variety of Hindu culture. ... Pongal is celebrated with much fanfare in Tamil Nadu. It is held in the month of January or February to coincide with the harvest of rice. Baisakhi in the northern state of Punjab is its equivalent.

Dr. Hiro Badlani :
“Hinduism - Path of the Ancient Wisdom”
Chapter 54: "Hindu Festivals"

Published by dasavatara das - "Vedic Views on World News"

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