Among all those popular festivals celebrated in India, Pongal is one of the most famous festivals in south India. It is a celebration of four days that fall in January with great cultural significance. But do you know why pongal is welcomed with great joy? The world is evolving day by day, and the stories behind these festivals started fading from people’s minds. But from my perspective, there should be an urge to know why these festivals are celebrated and praised.
So, if you are in search of the insights of Pongal, then this blog will help you. Here, you will learn why we celebrate Pongal.
What is the Pongal Festival?
Despite all other importance, Pongal is a harvest festival commemorating the yield of winter crops. Reflecting the overwhelming happiness and rejoicing, the word Pongal is termed from the Tamil word, Pongu, which means spill over or overflow. It is a festival that is celebrated by the South Indians, especially in Tamil Nadu. Now let’s go deeper into the roots of its significance.
Why do we celebrate Pongal?
Even though it is a festival to express gratitude for the gifted harvest of rice crops, Pongal is also a festival where people pay special homage to the Sun god. According to Hindu mythologies, the Sun god is a resemblance of power and sustenance.
So, people choose this day to thank the sun, nature and cattle for the harvest they received that year. It is because the sun has an unavoidable role in agriculture and the production of food. This celebration of bountiful harvest is even denoted in Sangam literature, especially in poems, context and more.
What are the four Days of Pongal?
Pongal is celebrated for four days, having crucial importance that differs in traditions and rituals.
It is the first day of Pongal, where people or devotees choose to clean and decorate their houses. People remove unused or unwanted things from the house. To signify the knockdown of the past and start a new beginning, everyone decorates their houses in various ways and lights the bonfire. This tradition aims to embrace positivity and end negativity around you and your environment.
Being one of the significant days of Pongal, people celebrate this day with great interest and enthusiasm. People choose this day to create a special sweet dish called Pongal prepared of Rice, Jaggery, milk and Ghee. Following the traditional norms, the dish is prepared in a clay pot in which they let the dish overflow while boiling, which symbolizes prosperity and a new beginning. As the dish boils, the people or the family members shout out with excitement, “Pongalo Pongal”. Devotees visit temples and offer prayers, conduct rituals and offer their Pongal dish to the sun god to express their gratitude for the harvest. After offering it to the Sun god, people prepare other special Pongal dishes for the feast.
As you know, cattle play a severe role in agriculture. So, people consider it as a prime support of wealth. So, this is the third day of Pongal which is dedicated to honour and worshipping cattle like cows and oxen.
On the day of mattu pongal, cows and other cattle are adorned by making them bath and decorating them with flower garlands. In some regions, people conduct cattle races and other cultural games to evoke traditions and embrace togetherness among the people.
Being the final and fourth day of Pongal, it is a day where people choose to spend time with their family and friends by going on trips and outings. Some people visit their friend’s house and share greetings and gifts. On Kaanum Pongal, people pray for their loved ones and seek blessings from elders. On the other hand, people also conduct traditional art and folk dances such as Mayilattam and Kolattam.
Cultural and Traditional Significance of Pongal
Being considered one of the secular festivals, it also has religious importance, where people praise the Sun god for the overwhelming harvest. Pongal is a four-day festival known for many cultural and traditional doings such as cleaning houses, decorating houses, creating kolam or flower designs on floors, and more. Along with preparing communal cooking, people also take this moment to embrace the tradition through traditional music and dances. Even though this festival is also celebrated in Andhra Pradesh and Karnataka, Pongal is a significant festival with a lot of importance in Tamil Nadu. Each region has diverse cultural customs, and people tend to worship other deities and their idols in their homes.
Celebrate Pongal to Embrace Your Positivity
Considered one of the oldest festivals, the Pongal festival is deeply connected with cultural heritage with agricultural importance. Despite the religious roots, the festival is strongly associated with the seasons, harvest, nature and more.
And, it doesn't matter, how much we grow in technology and go far from traditions, the importance of Pongal remained unwavering and still celebrated with great joy and enthusiasm.