Wednesday, January 13, 2016

Hindu Festivals -Part V Pongal/Makara Sankranthi

In continuation of my earlier posting of articles on Hindu Festival, I post below an article on another important Hindu Festival Pongal which corresponds to the  Makar Sankrati
Thai Pongal (Tamiltaippongal) is a Tamil harvest festival. Thai Pongal is a four day festival which according to the Gregorian calendar is normally celebrated from January 13 to January 16, but sometimes it is celebrated from January 14 to January 17. This corresponds to the last day of the Tamil month Maargazhi to the third day of the Tamil month Thai.
Thai Pongal is one of the most important festivals celebrated by Tamil people  in the Indian state of Tamil Nadu, the Indian Union Territory of Puducherry, Sri Lanka] as well as Tamils worldwide, including those in Malaysia, MauritiusSouth Africa, USASingapore, Canada and UK. .
The day marks the start of the sun’s six-month-long journey northwards (the Uttarayanam). This also corresponds to the Indic solstice when the sun purportedly enters the 10th house of the Indian zodiac Makara or Capricorn. Thai Pongal is mainly celebrated to convey appreciation to the Sun God for providing the energy for agriculture. Part of the celebration is the boiling of the first rice of the season consecrated to the Sun - the Surya Maangalyam.
The festival also corresponds to the following following festivals celebrated in other parts of India:
Thai PongalTamil Nadu, Sri Lanka
Makara SankranthiAndhra Pradesh, Bengal, Kerala, Bihar, Jharkhand,Goa, Karnataka, Orissa, Madhya Pradesh, Maharashtra, Manipur, Telangana Uttar Pradesh
UttarayanaGujarat and Rajasthan
LohriHaryana, Himachal Pradesh and Punjab
Magh Bihu/Bhogali BihuAssam
Maghe Sankranti or Makar SankrantiNepal
Days of the Festival:

The First Day The first day of Pongal is called as Bhogi and devoted to Lord Indra, who is the supreme ruler of clouds that give rain. People pay homage to Lord Indra for the abundance of harvest and prosperity to the land. There is a custom of throwing useless household articles into a fire, made of wood and cow-dung cakes. Girls are seen dancing around the bonfire and singing songs in praise of the God. 

The Second Day On the second day of Pongal, a puja is performed. Rice is boiled in milk, outdoors - in an earthenware pot, and is symbolically offered to the Sun God, along with other oblations. 

There is a ritual of tying turmeric plant around the pot in which the rice will be boiled. The offerings include coconut and bananas in a dish, with two sticks of sugar-cane in background.

The Third Day It is also known as Mattu Pongal, the day when cattle are worshipped. The cattle are decorated with multi-colored beads, tinkling bells, sheaves of corn and flower garlands. They are fed with Pongal and taken to the village center, where the young men race each other's cattle. It makes the atmosphere more festive and full of fun. Later on, aarti is performed. 
The Fourth Day The final day of Pongal celebration is known as Knau or Kannum Pongal. On this day, a turmeric leaf is washed and kept on ground. The left over 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 are placed on it. All the women assemble in the courtyard and pray for the prosperity of their brother. An aarti is performed with turmeric water, limestone and rice and the items are sprinkled on the kolam in front of the house.

The word kaanum in this context means "to visit." Many families hold reunions on this day. Brothers pay special tribute to their married sisters by giving gifts as affirmation of their filial love. Landlords present gifts of food, clothes and money to their tenants. Villagers visit relatives and friends while in the cities people flock to beaches and theme parks with their families. 

People assembled in Marina beach,Chennai on the day of Kanum Pongal.
Celebrants chew sugar cane and again decorate their houses with kolam. Relatives and friends receive thanks for their assistance supporting the harvest.

Margazhi Kolam

Though rarely followed in cities, most villages in Tamil Nadu mark the arrival of Pongal festival a month before (Margazhi - mid December to mid January) by embellishing the floor space of their dwelling entrance with decorative patterns called Kolam - drawn using rice flour and different colour powders- by female members of the family on or before dawn. 

Traditionally dwellings are whitewashed with in the month of Margazhi to welcome the auspicious Thai Pongal.
Makara Sankranthi:
Makara Sankranthi is an Indian festival celebrated in almost all parts of India and Nepal in lots of cultural forms. It is a harvest festival.
Makara Sankranthi marks the transition of the Sun into the zodiac sign of Makara (Capricorn) on its celestial path. The day is also believed to mark the arrival of spring in India and is a traditional event. Makara Sankranthi is a solar event making one of the few Indian festivals which fall on the same date in the Gregorian calendar every year: 14 January, with some exceptions when the festival is celebrated on 13 January.
I wish all the readers of this Blog Very Happy Pongal/Makara Sankranthi

Pictures Courtesy: Google images


  1. Happy Pongal and Makar Sankranti sir :-)

    1. Thank you Archana and wish you the same

  2. Good information
    Happy Pongal to you all

    1. Thank you for your nice comments. Happy Pongal.

  3. Hi Saibaba

    Enjoyed the article - very informatic & nostalgic �� Brought memories of my school days in my village celebrating all of the days you described. Thank you for the nice article.

    Happy Pongal

    - Sena
    Loyola 1970

    1. Hi Senapathi thank you for your nice comments.Happy Pongal.