Why It Is One Of The Significant Harvest Festivals?
Pongal is one of the major festivals of South India, mainly celebrated in Tamil Nadu. In other parts of India, it is popularly known as Makar Sankranti. Pongal is a four-day harvest festival during the solar equinox. It is celebrated on 15 Jan. In Tamilnadu, it is also known as Thai Pongal, and the entire period is called Uttarayanam. It is a four-day festival.
Thai Pongal 2023 Date and Time
As per the Tamil calendar, the Pongal days will correspond with the Tamil year Margazhi to the 3rd day of the Tamil month Thai.
Importance of Pongal Festival 2023
There are different types of Pongal, and each day of the four days has its importance. The first day is Bhogi Pongal, and the second day, considered the most important day of the Pongal festival, is known as Thai Pongal. The third and fourth days are Mattu Pongal and Kaanum Pongal, respectively. Pongal depicts a message of letting the old things go away, and the new things come in!
Significance of each day of Pongal 2023 and how it is celebrated
Let’s know how Pongal Celebration takes place on different days:
Day 1: Bhogi Pongal-Saturday, 14 Jan 2023
Bhogi Pongal is day 1 of Pongal, and on this day, people offer their prayers to Lord Indra for blessing the land with rain yielding a good harvest. Also, on this day, houses are cleaned thoroughly.
Day 2: Surya Pongal/ Thai Pongal- Sunday, 15 Jan, 2023
As the name suggests, this day is dedicated to Lord Sun, who is worshipped on this day. Devotees offer milk and jaggery to Lord sun. This is the main day of the 4-day long festival. Along with Sakkararai Pongal, various other dishes are prepared on this day.
Day 3: Mattu Pongal-Monday, 16 Jan 2023
This day is dedicated to cattle such as cows, bulls, and other farm animals who play a significant role in the contribution of agriculture. The cattle are dressed up before they are prayed.
Day 4: Kaanum Pongal-Tuesday, 17 Jan, 2023
Kaanum Pongal is a day dedicated to relaxation and enjoyment. On this day, relatives and friends meet and exchange sweets and goodies. Rangoli is drawn outside the houses as it shows signs of prosperity and well-being.
On The Thai Pongal Day
On the day of Pongal, the food is cooked at sunrise in an open place. First, people cook rice and milk together and let the milk boil. Milk is allowed to spill over as this is considered auspicious. Once it is cooked, it is tempered with ghee, cashew nuts, raisins, and jaggery. This dish is known as Pongal and is served to Lord Sun once it is cooked to thank him for the harvest. This Pongal is later served to the people in the house.
Legends About Pongal Festival
One of the famous legends about Pongal is that Lord Shiva sent his Bull Nandi to visit Earth and tell people to have an oil massage and bath every day and eat once a month. Instead of this, Nandi told people to eat daily and have an oil bath daily once a month. Lord Shiva was furious and cursed him to live on the Earth forever. I asked him to plow the fields and help people produce more food. Hence, after harvesting, people celebrate this festival with crops and cattle.
Although Pongal is the main festival in Tamil Nadu, it is also celebrated in other places such as Andra Pradesh, Sri Lanka, and the Maldives. According to the Tamil Solar Calendar, it falls at the start of the month. Pongal is named after the sweet dish Pongal ( Rice Kheer) served during the festival.
Rituals Followed In Pongal
Pongal festival has an immensely religious and spiritual significance that is evident in the complete rituals followed by the believers. During this four-day festival, people wear turmeric and kumkum dots on their foreheads. It is considered very auspicious. Women and girls create vibrantly-colored rangolis close to the entrance gate of their homes. It is done to welcome the Goddess of Wealth, Devi Lakshmi, to the household. Prayers are offered, and her blessings are sought. People throw away their old clothes and garbage from their homes and burn them off. This festival is associated with a lot of prayers and pooja rituals. As such, the temple in the home is decorated with fresh flowers, deepam, agarbatti, dhoop, etc., to invite positive vibes. They believe that such a home attracts divine Gods who shower blessings of peace, harmony, prosperity, success and good health on everyone residing in the home. Clay stoves or pots are kept for cooking, and a mangal kothu or thread is tied around the pot. Wet vibhuti is used to draw three lines along with a kumkum dor on the pot. Special food items like obbattu, adhirasam, and Tsuchiya are made. On the festival’s last day, devotees get up at 4 AM and prepare for early morning prayer at 6 AM. A head bath is taken, fresh clothes are worn, and blessings are sought from the elders of the house. On this day, wedding functions are also initiated as it is considered a holy and auspicious day. It is the perfect day for Holy observances and marriage events.
Best Places To Visit To Celebrate Pongal In India
Pongal, the winter harvest festival, is celebrated with great excitement, reverence, and devotion throughout the country. Still, a few places on your travel list can be considered if you wish to celebrate this festival in style. Let us look at some places that celebrate Pongal with a lot of gusto and enthusiasm.
Madurai, the city of temples, is one of the most appropriate places to celebrate Pongal. The place comes alive with excitement and reverence during this four-day celebration. Many activities are organized during this festival that keeps visitors and locals engaged. Feel the vibrant vibes of the festival at the local shrines peppered through the city.
How to Reach Madurai
- Nearest Airport. Madurai Airport
- Nearest Railway Station. Madurai Junction
Thanjavur, a magnificent city, known for its world-famous Thanjavur paintings, celebrates Pongal with great fanfare. The place is visited by many people who seek blessings at the ancient Shiva temple in the city’s heart. Mattu Pongal is celebrated with great religious and spiritual fervor. The Pongal celebrations are amazing not only in the city but also in the countryside.
How to Reach Thanjavur
- Nearest Airport. Tiruchirapalli International Airport
- Nearest Railway Station.Thanjavur Junction
Located 44 km away from Coimbatore, Pollachi is a beautiful city. Masani Amman temple witnesses grand Pongal celebrations. Men and women dress in fine clothes, observe proper rituals, offer prayers, and enjoy delectable food.
How to Reach Pollachi
- Nearest Airport. Coimbatore Airport
- Nearest Railway Station. Coimbatore Junction
Salem, known for textile manufacturing, is a major industrial town in Tamil Nadu. ‘Fox Darshan’ is an interesting activity that makes Salem a prominent place for Pongal celebrations. Men visit a nearby forest looking for a fox, carry it back for worshipping and offering prayers and release it back into the forest. Cows are also worshipped during this festival.
How to Reach Salem
- Nearest Airport. Chennai International Airport
- Nearest Railway Station.Salem Town
Pongal in Coimbatore is celebrated similarly to thanksgiving in Western countries. Homes are cleaned, beautified, and prepared for elaborate prayers and rituals. Delicacies are cooked and served to the guests. Flowers and rangolis add to the beauty of the homes and temples.
How to Reach Coimbatore
- Nearest Airport.Coimbatore Airport
- Nearest Railway Station.Coimbatore Junction
Frequently Asked Questions About Pongal
Ques 1. Why is Pongal celebrated?
Ans 1. Pongal, a winter harvest festival, is dedicated to Hindu Sun God. It is celebrated with a lot of zeal and enthusiasm all over the country, especially in Tamil Nadu.
Ques 2. When is Pongal celebrated?
Ans 2. Pongal is a four-day long harvest festival that falls in the month of Thai, corresponding to the January-February season.