Pongal

PONGAL

Pongal is celebrated on the same day as Bihu, Lohri and Bhogi. But Pongal stretches over four days. The word Pongal literally means "boiling over" and celebrates the bounteous crops in the fields. This festival is the biggest event of the year for the Tamils as well as for the people of Andhra Pradesh.

The first day, Bhogi-Pongal is devoted to Bhogi or Indran, the rain god. The day is linked with the famous mythological tale about Krishna lifting Gobardhan parbat on his little finger. The day begins with a til oil bath and in the evening there is a bonfire made of old cloths, files, mats and rugs.

The second day, Surya-Pongal, is dedicated to the Sun (Surya). On this day, pongal (rice cooked in milk and jaggery) is bolied by women who offer it to the Sun.

Mattu-Pongal, the third day, is the day dedicated to the worship and veneration of cattle (mattu). The horns of the cattle is decorated with turmeric and kumkum, small bells and flowers are hung around their neck and they are paraded in the streets. The pongal that has been offered to the local deities is given to the cattle to eat.

The last day is known as Kanyapongal. Coloured balls of the pongal are made and are offered to birds. A kind of bull-fight, called the 'Jallikattu' is held in Madhurai, Tiruchirapalli and Tanjore in Tamil Nadu and several places in Andhra Pradesh. Bundles containing money are tied to the horns of ferocious bulls, and unarmed villagers try to wrest the bundles from them. Bullock Cart race and cock-fight are also held. In Andhra Pradesh, every household displays its collection of dolls for three days. Community meals are held at night with freshly harvested ingredients.


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