Pongal is the most popular harvest festival of Kerala which is celebrated for four days in mid January every year. This festival is celebrated as a thanksgiving occasion in which farmers pay respect and honour to the Sun god, nature and cattle’s for their contribution in agricultural activities.
It is also celebrated as the mark of auspicious journey of Sun to northwards which is known as the Uttarayan or Summer Solstice. Pongal is a four day long festivity which usually start from 13th and lasts up to 16th January.
Pongal festival is a series of four celebrations all rolled into one festival. The Pongal festival series consists of Bhogi Pongal, Thai Pongal, Mattu Ponal and Kanum Pongal. Each of these festive celebrations is unique in its concept which has its own rituals and way of celebration. This festival is celebrated with great pomp and enthusiasm in which people clean their houses, wear new clothes and make colourful rangoli (known as Kolam) at the main entrance of their houses and cook delicious cuisine.
The First Day – Bhogi Pongal
The first day of Pongal is celebrated as Bhogi Pongal. It is celebrated in honour of Lord Indra the ‘God of Clouds and Rains’ who provides abundance of harvest, thereby brings prosperity to the land. On this day people clean their homes and collect all unwanted goods which are thrown in fire lit by using wood and cow-dung cakes. This ritual is called Bhogi Mantalu.
The Second Day – Surya Pongal
Surya Pongal is the most important day of Pongal festival in which the Sun god is worshipped. It is the day when festive celebration begins. On this day family gather outside their home and cook ‘pongal’ in clay pots. When the rice overflows from the pot the people shout ‘Pongal O Pongal’ and pay tribute to the Sun. The overflowing of rice symbolizes a prosperous farming season. It is also the first day of the Tamil month Thai.
The Third Day – Mattu Pongal
The third day of Pongal is dedicated to cattle and is known as Mattu Pongal. People offer prayers to the bulls, cows and other farm animals for their contribution in agriculture. On this day cattle are bathed, oiled and decorated with shining metal caps and their horns are painted in bright colors. Tinkling bells, flower garlands and sheaves of corn are tied around their necks.
The Fourth Day – Kaanum Pongal
The fourth day of Pongal celebration is Kaanum Pongal in which people visit their friends and relatives for exchanging sweets, gifts and greetings. It is the time of joint family celebrations in which people decorate their home with Kolam. It is a decorative pattern made up of rice flour which is drawn on the floor or outside the door. It is the painted prayers and welcome sign that brings prosperity to home.
The colourful and vibrant celebrations of Pongal remain the much awaited function of Kerala. The pompous celebration of this festival by the people of God’s Own Country attracts tourists from various parts of the globe.
Author: Manish Sinha – Kerala Tourism is known for its beautiful beaches, breathtaking waterways, vibrant culture, colourful festivals, rich wildlife and delectable cuisine. Among many celebrations of India the Kerala Pongal Festival is known throughout the world for its grand celebration and beautiful decorations. Pongal is a four day long festivity which start from 13th and lasts up to 16th January.