"Wishing that this festival is one, which brings good luck
and prosperity and hoping that it is joyous, and fills your days ahead with happiness."
Pongal is the harvest festival of Tamil Nadu. On this day, people thank God for a bountiful harvest. They prepare a special dish called 'Sarkkarai Pongal' and pray for the blessings of Sun God. One of the most popular Tamil festivals, it is celebrated on January 14th or 15th every year, when it coincides with Makar Sankranti celebrations in entire North India, Lohri in Punjab, Bhogali Bihu in Assam and Bhogi in Andhra Pradesh. It is one of the very few Dravidian festivals that have survived the Indo-Aryan influences. Pongal also finds little reference in Puranas.
Falling just after the winter solstice and a bountiful harvest, Pongal marks the season of celebration and joyous activities and it is celebrated continuously for four days.
The First Day
This first day is celebrated as Bhogi festival in honor of Lord Indra, the supreme ruler of clouds that give rains. Homage is paid to Lord Indra for the abundance of harvest, thereby bringing plenty and prosperity to the land. Another ritual observed on this day is Bhogi Mantalu, when useless household articles are thrown into a fire made of wood and cow-dung cakes. Girls dance around the bonfire, singing songs in praise of the gods, the spring and the harvest. The significance of the bonfire, in which is burnt the agricultural wastes and firewood is to keep warm during the last lap of winter.
The Second Day
On the second day of Pongal, the puja or act of ceremonial worship is performed when rice is boiled in milk outdoors in a earthenware pot and is then symbolically offered to the sun-god along with other oblations. All people wear traditional dress and markings, and their is an interesting ritual where husband and wife dispose off elegant ritual utensils specially used for the puja. In the village, the Pongal ceremony is carried out more simply but with the same devotion. In accordance with the appointed ritual a turmeric plant is tied around the pot in which the rice will be boiled. The offerings include the two sticks of sugar-cane in background and coconut and bananas in the dish. A common feature of the puja, in addition to the offerings, is the kolam, the auspicious design which is traditionally traced in white lime powder before the house in the early morning after bathing.
The Third Day
The third day is known as Mattu Pongal, the day of Pongal for cows. Multi-colored beads, tinkling bells, sheaves of corn and flower garlands are tied around the neck of the cattle and then are worshiped. They are fed with Pongal and taken to the village centers. The resounding of their bells attract the villagers as the young men race each other's cattle. The entire atmosphere becomes festive and full of fun and revelry. Arati is performed on them, so as to ward off the evil eye. According to a legend, once Shiva asked his bull, Basava, to go to the earth and ask the mortals to have an oil massage and bath every day and to eat once a month. Inadvertently, Basava announced that everyone should eat daily and have an oil bath once a month. This mistake enraged Shiva who then cursed Basava, banishing him to live on the earth forever. He would have to plough the fields and help people produce more food. Thus the association of this day with cattle.
The Fourth Day
The Fourth day is known as Knau or Kannum Pongal day. On this day, a turmeric leaf is washed and is then placed on the ground. On this leaf are placed, the left overs of sweet Pongal and Venn Pongal, ordinary rice as well as rice colored red and yellow, betel leaves, betel nuts, two pieces of sugarcane, turmeric leaves, and plantains. In Tamil Nadu women perform this ritual before bathing in the morning. All the women, young and old, of the house assemble in the courtyard. The rice is placed in the centre of the leaf, while the women ask that the house and family of their brothers should prosper. Arati is performed for the brothers with turmeric water, limestone and rice, and this water is sprinkled on the kolam in front of the house.
Pongal Special : Recipe Of Chackra Pongal / Chakara Pongal
» Long Grain Rice 1 cup
» Moong Dhal 1/8 cup
» Milk 1 cup
» Melted Butter (Ghee) 1/2 to 1 cup
» Powdered Jaggery (Gur) or Brown Sugar 1 3/4 cup
» Cardamom Powder 1/2 tsp
» Raisins 10 no
» Cashew Nuts (whole) 6 to 8 no
1. Cook rice and moong dal with milk and water until well done.
2. Fry cashews and raisins in ghee until golden brown and keep aside.
3. Take water and add gur (or brown sugar) and boil it until it dissolves and becomes thick.
4. Add cooked rice and dal to gur and keep stirring on low heat until well mixed.
5. Add remaining ghee in spoonfuls and continue stirring.
6. Add powdered cardamom and mix well.
7. Decorate with fried raisins and cashews.
8. Serve with a Smile !