Origin & History of Pongal - The Thanksgiving Festival of India

Origin & History of Pongal - The Thanksgiving Festival of India

11 Jan, 2021 | Taxida

The harvest festival of Tamil Nadu, the Pongal festival, generally falls in the Tamil month of Thai (January), and this year it will be celebrated on 14th January. It is regarded as the oldest festival in India as its origin can be dated back to the Sangam Age (200 B.C. to 300 A.D). Initially, it was celebrated as a Dravidian Harvest festival and was called "Thai Niradal." On the day of the festival, all unmarried girls got together and prayed for agricultural prosperity. Goddess Katyayani, one of the nine avatars of Goddess Durga, was worshiped during Thai Nadal.

Then during the reign of Pallavas, Pongal was celebrated as ‘'Paavai Nonbu". During that time, the young girls offered prayers to God for yearly rain, bringing prosperity for people. Throughout the month of Margazhi, they did not drink milk or any milk products. They even avoided applying oil to their hair. All these traditions paved the way to the Pongal festivity of today.

Pongal is celebrated for days, and each day has its own significance. Read on to know more about how each day of Pongal is celebrated.

Bhogi Pongal: Bhogi is the first day of the Pongal festival and is dedicated to Lord Indra. People clean their homes from top to bottom and decorate their entrances with vibrant rangolis. Generally, the kolams are made with rice flour and water paste. On the day people start a bonfire and burn all the waste things from their house. The meaning behind this is to remove bad luck and bring prosperity in the new year.

Thai Pongal: This is the most important day of the Pongal festivities. It is also called Surya Pongal, as the day is dedicated to the Lord Surya, the Sun God. On this day, Tamilians prepare Pongal, which is a traditional sweet dish made with rice, milk, and jaggery. This is then offered as a prasadam to God. The Pongal is authentically made with freshly harvested rice in an earthen pot and is cooked until it overflows. This tradition symbolizes prosperity. Other than Pongal, items like sugarcane, bananas, and coconut are offered to the Sun god.

Mattu Pongal: The third day of the Pongal celebrations is dedicated to the farming community's crucial part, the cattle. On this day, cattle are given a bath and decorated with turmeric and flowers. Farmers then cook Pongal, especially for their cows and oxen, and offer it to them. The best part of this day is Jallikattu (Bullfights), a famous bull-taming sport in Tamil Nadu, mainly the Madurai region.

Kaanum Pongal: The final day of the Pongal is all about getting together with the family and exchanging gifts. In some places, sisters pray on Kaanum Pongal for the well-being of their brothers.

Pongal is considered the first day of the year in Tamil culture and signifies the importance of giving and sharing. So, from this Pongal, take a wow to help the needy and spend more time with your loved ones.

Team Taxida wishes you a very happy and prosperous Pongal!

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