From the fresh crunch of sugarcane, foams of rice boiling over to the bulls adorned with flowers the festival of Pongal brings along with it vibrant memories and colourful experiences. Even when we are sitting in the hustle-bustle of our city among honking cars and towering skyscrapers the moment the word Pongal echoes in our ears we get teleported to acres and acres of lush green fields(probably our hometown), women singing traditional folk songs and men wrestling Jallikattu bulls. Pongal is a festival that Tamil people take pride in celebrating and we have proven this time and again.
Pongal or Thai Pongal as it is formally known as is a four-day Hindu festival which marks the start of the sun's six-month-long journey northwards. The festival is dedicated to the Sun God Suryan for blessing the crops with an abundance of sunshine. Though celebrated by Tamils worldwide the festival is of great significance to farmers as it indicates the start of harvest. It is fondly referred to as ‘Thamizhar Thirunaal’ or ‘Day of the Tamil people’. The first day of Pongal coincides with Makar Sankranthi which is a harvest festival celebrated in other parts of our country.
The first day of the festivities is Boghi. On this day households are cleansed by burning old articles and clothes. People gather together on the street, dump the unwanted stuff and light them. Houses are then cleaned and decorated for the following days
For the next 3 days, there are several customs and traditions which have been faithfully upheld since generations. A rice dish which is also known as Pongal is prepared and offered to the Sun God on all three days. The dish is cooked in a decorated Mann Paanai (clay pot) under the sun. A clay stove fired with firewood is used for this. We all have the memory of huddling around the stove waiting for the rice to boil over. When it does, we would chant ‘Pongal O Pongal’ thrice. The rice would then be turned into Chakkara Pongal and Ven Pongal and offered as neivedhyam to the gods along with sugarcanes, flowers and other regular offerings.
The third day is Mattu Pongal or ‘Pongal for Cows’. It is also known as ‘Uzhavar Thirunaal’ or ‘Day of the Farmers’. For farmers, it is the day to celebrate the cattle that provide them with food and fertilizer. Farmers adorn their cattle with flowers, turmeric and kunkumam and feed them with the prepared Pongal, bananas and other treats. They also prepare huge feasts for their relatives at the farm. Traditional games like Jallikattu and Rekla race are held. Farmers also host their relatives and entertain them with feasts.
The fourth day is Kaanum Pongal. Kaanum means to see or visit. On this day in villages, women and children visit the temple with offerings and throng around to perform the Kummi, a traditional dance in which women and young girls dance around in circles. Family get-togethers are held and in the cities, the day is marked by visits to public attractions like the beach. On this day in villages, women and children visit the temple with offerings and throng around to perform the Kummi, a traditional dance in which women and young girls dance around in circles.
There is also this tradition where all sisters pray for their brothers by offering 'Kannu Pidis' where small balls of coloured rice are placed on a banana leaf along with sugar cane and offered to crowd and sparrows.
Let's carry the baton of our tradition together !
Team Sweet Karam Coffee wish you and your family a very happy & prosperous Kaanum Pongal!