Pongal is a harvest festival. In a country like India, where agriculture is the primary source of livelihood for more than 50% of the population it should not come as a surprise. It is dedicated to sun God and marks the sun’s six-month long journey northwards. It is a four- day festival celebrated by the Tamil population in the state of Tamil Nadu and also in Puducherry and Sri Lanka. The basic motive behind this festival is to appreciate and express gratitude to the Gods for a successful harvest.
History of Pongal
Having been mentioned in the Sanskrit Puranas, the history of Pongal can be traced back to the Sangam age (200 B.C. – 300 A.D.). The festival was celebrated in the month of margazhi and throughout the month it was compulsory for young girls to avoid milk and milk products. They had to refrain from oiling their hair and using harsh words while speaking. They were to worship Goddess Katyayani whose idol was carved out from wet sand. They believed that doing this would bring rainfall that will flourish the paddy fields.
There are also some legends associated with the festival, however, the most famous one is related to Lord Shiva. According to it, Lord Shiva sent his bull to the Earth to tell the mortals that they were to take oil baths daily and eat once a month. However, the bull got confused and announced that they should eat daily and take oil baths once a month which enraged Lord Shiva and he banished the bull to live forever on Earth and plough the fields to harvest more food.
Reasons Behind Celebration of Pongal
The four- day festival is celebrated to show gratitude towards sun God and Lord Indra for their help in the harvest. It is considered to be a very auspicious occasion where Gods bestow wealth and prosperity on Earth.
The first day of the festival also called Bhogi festival, is celebrated to worship Lord Indra for the timely rain. This day is also seen as a mark of a new year, so people clean their houses and buy new vessels.
On the Second day of the festival people worship and praise the sun God. People boil rice with milk in an earthen pot and offer it to the Sun God.
On the third day or Mattu Pongal, people honor and glorify cattle for helping farmers in the harvesting.
On the last day or Kannum Pongal people worship Lord Ganesha and Goddess Parvati and have meals with their families.
Popular Dishes on Pongal
The literal meaning of the word Pongal means “boiling over”, which refers to rice cooked in milk and jaggery. There are two varieties of Pongal. The one which is salty is called ‘Ven Pongal’ while the sweet one is called ‘Sarkkarai Pongal’.
Raw mangoes have their own place in this festival. Mango pichadi is a special dish made from raw mangoes and jaggery which is served as a chutney.
Some other dishes for the festivals are – aval payasam, dal payasam, coconut rice, tamarind rice, lemon rice, murukku, rawa pongal, curd rice and many more appetizing dishes
Best Quotes for Pongal Wishes
1. May your life and heart be pure and have full of joy. Wish you a very Happy Pongal.