The Pongal is celebrated as the most important harvest festival in Tamil Nadu. It commemorates the blessings of the Sun God that leads to a good harvest and prosperity in life. It derives its name from the special sweet dish that is prepared on this day to be offered to the God of worship.
The most famous story behind Pongal is that of Lord Krishna in Gokula. Lord Indra, the God of rains flooded Gokula out of rage. Lord Krishna saved the people of the village by lifting the huge Govardhana Mountain on his little finger. Finally Lord Indra seeked forgiveness and redeemed prosperity to the people of Gokula.
The Pongal is a four day festival. The celebrations start on the first day as Bhogi Pongal and end with Kaanum Pongal. The important days of Pongal 2023 are as follows:-
The first day, January 14, is celebrated as Bhogi Pongal.
This day is dedicated to Lord Indra. On this day people light bonfires, like the festival of Lohri in Punjab, in front of their houses and all old clothes and stuff are burnt in the sacred fire. Houses are cleaned and decorated with ‘kolams’ made of rice flour paste and red mud. Cow dung cakes and pumpkin flowers are also used for decoration.
The second day, January 15, is celebrated as Surya Pongal.
The first day of ‘Thai’, and is dedicated to the Sun God, also called Makar Sankranti in other parts of India. People cook the traditional sweet dish called ‘Pongal‘ made of rice and lentils boiled in milk and jaggery. This is offered to the Lord and large images of the Sun God are made over the ground for worship.
The third day, January 16, is celebrated as Mattu Pongal.
This day is dedicated to the cattle which are considered an inevitable part of the agricultural society. The cows and oxen are given a bath, decorated with ornaments and flowers and are offered the ‘Pongal’ that was cooked for worship. Bull fights are organized on this day as part of the festive spirit of Pongal.
The fourth day, January 17, is Kaanum Pongal or Kanya Pongal.
On this day sisters pray for the health and well-being of their brothers. This day is also dedicated to the fowl and birds and cooked rice in the form of small pellets is fed to them