Thai Pongal arrives in the Thai month of the Hindu calendar. On the celebration, Pongal is a popular sweet dish that people in South India prepare. The dish is mainly made of rice, moong dal, jaggery, and milk and tastes delicious.
This is the festival of Thanksgiving, and it is celebrated all over India, however, with different names. In Tamil Nadu, it is known as Pongal. During the festival, the farmers thank nature, Mother Earth, the Sun, and their Gods and Goddess.
They express gratitude toward nature for providing suitable conditions that make agriculture possible and human existence too. Farmers also worship their cattle since the animals contribute a major part to agriculture. Other than expressing gratitude, many ceremonies take place during the celebration.
Pongal Customs in Ancient Times
The history refers us to the Sangam Era when we find the origins of the festivity. It was first known as “Pavai Nonbu,” during which young girls would observe the day and pray for the wellbeing of their families. These girls would also pray for the rain to make the crops grow and make harvesting possible.
On the day, young girls would avoid all dairy products, and they worship Goddess Katyayani. Such customs would go on for a month believing to bring sufficient rain for the crops and rice. As time passed by, the practice got the name Pongal, and now it is majorly celebrated in South India as a four days festival.
Every day different rituals are performed, such as cleaning the home, preparing the Pongal, and worshipping the animals.
Customs & Celebrations in Today’s Time
Not only farmers but everyone in Tamil Nadu celebrate Pongal regardless of if they harvest and have animals. These people prepare Pongal and other South Indian food; they invite their relatives for lunch and rejoice in the togetherness.
On the day of Thai Pongal, a family wakes up early; they all take a bath and wear fresh clothes. Then every family member gathers in the front area of the home where the traditional Pongal is cooked. Several people make Pongal and perform the celebrations in their front garden.
To cook the Pongal, they prepare a specific area and décor it with kolam drawings. This is the place where sunlight also falls directly. Then they set up a fireplace using three bricks, and the Pongal making begins by putting a clay pot with water on fire.
A senior family member prepares Pongal mainly, and all other people assist him or her. First, they boil the water and then put rice into it. They begin with putting three handfuls of rice in first, and then goes the other ingredients: chakkarai (brown cane sugar), milk (cow’s milk or coconut milk), roasted green gram (payaru), raisins, cashew nuts, and some cardamom.
When the Pongal is prepared, they put it first on a banana leaf, and the whole family prays to nature, Sun, farmers, and God. They then savor the meal; people also invite their neighbors, friends, and relatives, and they all share food with each other. Eating rice on Pongal signifies fertility and auspiciousness. Various cultural events take place in the evening.
Thanksgiving to Animals
The farmers during Thanksgiving or Pongal take special care of the animals. Animals have always been a major part of the agriculture sector. In the olden days, when there were no machines and innovations, farmers were completely dependent on their animals. The cattle were used from the early stage of sowing the seeds to finally harvesting the crops.
Today many farmers still perform traditional farming where they are dependant on their cattle for harvesting. Thus farmers worship their animals such as cows and bulls. They clean their animals by bathing them and décor them with red, blue, yellow, and green paint. They smear their forehead with turmeric and Kumkum and wear them beautiful garlands of flowers. Then they worship their animals and offer them plenty of Pongal to eat. The day on which animals are worshipped and offered Pongal is also called Mattu Pongal.
Significance of Pongal
Thai Pongal gives the families a chance to organize reunions with their relatives and have a get-together. This is the occasion to blend a sweetness in your relations and forget the enmity. People forget rivalries, and everyone comes together to celebrate the festival.
This way, Thai Pongal provides you a golden period to experience freedom, peace and become one with your loved ones. It also makes a person understand the sense of gratitude and how we can live satisfied when we are grateful for the things we have.
Only when a person is grateful for the life he lives and the things he possess can he feel satiated and compassionate toward his existence. The Universe brings us more when we stop asking and start celebrating what we already have. Read more : https://www.astroved.com/astropedia/en/festivals/bhogi-pongal