The Celebrations during pongal festival

What is Pongal? It is the sole Hindu festival that follows solar calendar. Pongal gets celebrated annually on the 14th of January. This festival is extremely significant astronomically as it coincides with the start of Uttarayana (the 6 month period in which the sun moves northwards). The Hindus consider the period of Uttarayana to be extremely auspicious (on the contrary, in Hinduism, Dakshinaayana i.e. the sun’s southern movement is considered to be inauspicious). The period of Uttarayana sees celebration of a number of important events.

The Hindu temples during Pongal hosts elaborate celebrations garnished with symphony created by clarinets, drums, conch shells etc. Pongal is celebrated primarily to mark the ending of traditional farming season; during this festival the hardworking farmers get breaks from their droning and draining routine.

The festival of Pongal is celebrated most elaborately in the Indian state of Tamil Nadu. Here, Pongal celebration continues for 4 consecutive days starting from the 13th of January till the 15th of January.  On January 13 people of Tamil Nadu celebrate ‘Bhogi’, on January 14 they celebrate ‘Pongal’, the 15th of January sees celebration of ‘Maattuppongal’ and on the final day i.e. January 16 the ‘Thiruvalluvar Day’ is celebrated.

During ‘Bhogi’, the people of Tamil Nadu gather old materials and clothes and put fire to them; this ritual marks the start of new lives for them. On January 14, the residents here start celebrating Pongal with boiling of fresh milk in the early hours of the morning. Allowing the milk to boil above the vessel is a tradition and the act is also what Pongal actually means. Then, throughout the day people continues to exchange greetings. Gifting sweets to relatives and friends is also a part of the Pongal rituals. The next day i.e. the day of ‘Maattuppongal’ is meant for offering thanks to buffaloes and cows as these animals are the ones who plough the agricultural lands. On Thiruvalluvar Day also referred to as Kanum Pongal, the locals go for picnics.

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