Pongal is regarded as a harvest festival of South India. It is one of the most important and popular Hindu festivals. The four-day long harvest festival of Tamil Nadu, Pongal is all about thanksgiving to nature and takes its name from the Tamil word meaning "to boil" and is held in the month of Thai (January-February) it is celebrated from January 13 to 16 every year. The festival marks a period of plenty, peace and happiness. While each of its days has a special religious significance, most urban people celebrate second day as the main festival. Pongal is the only festival of Hindu that follows a solar calendar. On the first day known as Bhogi, people clean out their homes thoroughly and in the evening, all unwanted goods are lit in a bonfire. The second day is Perum Pongal, the most important. It is also called Surya Pongal because people worship Surya, the Sun God and his consorts, Chaya and Samgnya. Women decorate the central courtyard of their homes with beautiful kolams, done with rice flour and bordered with red clay. The third day, Mattu Pongal, is meant to offer thanks to the cows and buffaloes, as they are used to plough the lands. Jallikattu, a violent taming the bull contest, marks this day. On the last day, Kanum Pongal, people go out to picnic. During the Pongal season, people eat sugar canes and decorate the houses with Kolam. 'Ponga' literally means overflowing and is named so because of the tradition of cooking the new rice in pots until they overflow, which is symbolic of abundance and prosperity.
The festival of Pongal is mainly associated with the rural people. People wish each other on this day. Pongal wishes are exchanged between family and friends, and there are celebrations within the family. As one stand on the threshold of the harvest season, everyone exchange Pongal wishes, hoping that it brings the harbinger of good luck, good fortune and good cheer. The festival of Pongal is held dear particularly by the farming community as it marks the end of harvesting season.
South Indian Festival: Pongal >
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