The season of festivities is back again. Harvest festivals like Makar Sankaranti, Pongal, Lohri, Bhogi are all round the corner and the preparations for the same have begun in full swing. Despite a vast majority of its citizen inhabiting in urban settlements, India still largely remains an agro-based country. Naturally then, harvesting festivals are not only significant but are steeped in our culture since time immemorial. Thai Pongal is the harvest festival celebrated with much fervour and enthusiasm across Tamil Nadu and the whole of South India. The day marks the start of the sun's six-month-long journey northwards (Uttarayan). This transition of sun makes for a very significant movement for the agricultural communities. With this transition, the days become longer, the winters pave way for spring and the crops get longer duration of sunlight through the day. In addition to India, Pongal is also celebrated by Hindus in South Asian countries like Sri Lanka,Thailand and Malaysia.
Pongal, like any other Indian festival, is a mélange of rituals and of course mouth-watering delicacies. Pongal is a four-day festival that starts on 14th January with Bhogi Pongal and ends on 17th January with Kaanum Pongal. The main day of Pongal celebrations is on Thai Pongal which is the 15th of January 2018 this year.(Also Read: Happy Pongal: Everything You Need to Know About This Festival)
Pongal gets its name from the Tamil word 'Ponga' , which translates to 'overflowing'. During this season, rice, cereals, sugarcane and turmeric are harvested. To mark the shift in season, South Indians also observe a unique ritual which involves a pot on boil and overflowing milk and rice? Intrigued? Read on to know more about the interesting ritual.
On the day of Thai Pongal, people wake up early in the morning to pay their respects to the Sun God. Cooking the new rice in fresh milk in pots until they overflow, is symbolic of abundance, fortune and prosperity .The ritual is also carried early in the morning. Traditionally, the milk in cooked in a deep earthen vessel which is decorated. The milk is boiled till it begins to flow out of the vessel. Post this, freshly harvested rice grains are added into the pot. Rice in itself holds immense significance in Tamil culture. Rice is the very symbol of food and prosperity. When the milk begins to bubble out and overflow, other participants blow a conch called the sanggu and shout 'Pongalo Pongal' to mark the auspicious occasion. They also say "Thai Pirandhal Vazhi Pirakkum" which means, 'let this beginning of Thai bring about new opportunities'. The freshly cooked sweet Pongal which also includes the blend of cardamom, raisins, and cashew nuts, is then served to everyone present in the household and relished. Other sweet and savouries like murukku, payasama and vadai also make way to the special Pongal breakfast served on banana leaves.
(Also Read: Pongal 2018: Significance of Ven Pongal and How to Make it)
If you happen to be in a South Indian household during Pongal celebrations, then do ask for your bowlful. Here's wishing Happy Pongal to you all!