The festival of Pongal organized around the beginning of the Tamil month of ‘Thai’ is a very special occasion for the Tamil people. This is a grand agricultural, spiritual, social, cultural and family festival for the Tamilians which brings together people, families and communities. The celebrations of Pongal lasts for about 4 days in total with each of these days bearing a unique significance and witnessing different kinds of activities. Much before the arrival of Pongal, every household prepares for this grand annual event and undertakes home renovation and beautification.
The first day of Pongal falling on the day before the start of Thai month is called as Bhogi. This day is meant for cleaning, decorating and preparing the household for the grand Pongal celebrations that will follow over the next three days. A bonfire is organized early in the morning on this day to burn the old, broken and outdated things.
Pongal is the main celebration on the first day of the Thai month. On this day, the top highlight is the dish Pongal (rice and milk with flavours and herbs) cooked in an earthen pot and a grand feast offered to the Sun God as thanks giving. Families shout ‘Pongalo Pongal’ when the milk boils and overflows from the pot. This event is said to bring prosperity to the household.
The next day called Mattu Pongal is meant to say thanks to the bullocks that help the farmers in tilling the lands and pulling the carts and cows that give milk. The farm animals are decorated and given some nice dishes to eat. Children ride bullock carts in the evening singing and dancing.
This last day of the Pongal is meant to receive the blessings of the elders, visiting friends and relatives and sightseeing. Gifts are exchanged and employees are rewarded by their owners on this day.