Festival - Pongal: Must See India
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Pongal is celebrated on January 14 every year across Tamil Nadu, Pondicherry, Andhra Pradesh and Karnataka. The festival is held on an immensely significant date on the Hindu calendar. As per this calendar, Pongal marks the beginning of Uttarayan. This is the movement of the sun northwards and according to astrological principles, it is considered to be the beginning of an auspicious time.

Pongal is also essentially a harvest festival. It marks the end of the farming season and is celebrated as a time when the farmer gets a rest from his labors and when the granaries are overflowing with produce. Pongal literally means “boiling over”.


Pongal is traditionally a 3-day festival. The first day is known as Bogi Pongal, and it is celebrated on January 13. Surya Pongal which is the main day of festivities is held on January 14. The next day is Mattu Pongal and the celebrations come to an end with Kaanum Pongal on January 16.

On Bogi Pongal day, houses are cleaned up. Old clothes are either thrown away or burnt. This is done to symbolize the beginning of something new. Women draw designs called “Kolams” in front of their houses. In villages, farmers worship the tools that they use for farming.

On Surya Pongal day, people wake up early for a traditional bath. Kolams are drawn and the family worships the Sun God. A clay pot is then used to cook the pongal dish. This consists of rice, jaggery and milk. As the pot boils over spilling the rice and milk, family members chant Pongalo, Pongalo.

Mattu Pongal is a day when the farmer gives thanks to his cattle for helping him to farm his land. Farm animals are given a bath and decorated with flowers and colors. The decorated cattle are then taken around the village for everybody to admire. The animals are also fed the Pongal that is cooked in every house in the village.

Kaanum Pongal is the last day of the Pongal celebrations. The Sun God is worshipped and most households make a dish known as “Sarkarai Pongal”. The deity is offered sugarcane. This is the day when relatives visit each other and exchange Pongal greetings.

Tourist Essential

A visit to South India during the Pongal celebrations gives a glimpse into the culture of the land. The celebrations are more intense in the villages. Given time constraints, most urbanites celebrate only Surya Pongal. Therefore, tourists should consider visiting the rural areas of the southern states to catch the true flavor of the Pongal celebrations.

Pongal is also a good time to sample the local delicacies. Most households make the traditional Pongal dishes, and even hotels offer a taste of the traditional cuisine.


by Kapil