CELEBRATED BY TAMILIANS. COINCIDES WITH MAKARA SANKRANTHI CELEBRATED THROUGHOUT INDIA AS THE WINTER HARVEST
SIGNIFICANCE AND HISTORY
‘Thai Pongal’ is an important festival of Tamilnadu in India celebrated by the Tamilians. According to the Tamil Calendar, Thai Pongal falls on the first day of the Thai month or the tenth month. It is generally celebrated in the month of January every year especially on 14th or 15th. Tamils refer it as their own festival or ‘Tamizhar Thirunaal’.
In other words Thai Pongal also means ‘Pongal’ that is a celebration of four days. Thai Pongal is the second day that is the most important of the other days. It is the festival of harvesting and denotes the end of winter season. On this auspicious day the Sun starts its extensive voyage of six months towards the northward direction also known as ‘Uttarayanam’. This festival corresponds to ‘Makar Sankranti’ that is celebrated by the other states. It is a medium of conveying thanks and is celebrated in order to honour the nature for its supplies throughout the year.
It is mentioned in the past evidences that there was a festival named ‘Puthiyeedu’ celebrated at the period of Chola Empires in India. Puthiyeedu was the name given to the first yield of the respective year.
The four days of the festival of Pongal are divided as Bhogi Pandigai, Thai Pongal, Mattu Pongal and Kaanum Pongal. Thai Pongal is also known by other names such as Veetu Pongal, Sarkarai Pongal, etc.
The houses and the surrounding areas are cleaned and decorated prior to the actual celebrations. On the day of Thai Pongal people wake up early in the morning, take bath and wear new clothes. They gather in the set garden to prepare the customary food. Some prior preparations are made in garden before the cooking takes place. A small square portion of the ground is selected and is adorned with ‘Kolam’ that means colourful designs made from powders of different colours. A fireplace is constructed by the use of bricks and woods at a place where the Sun light can enter as it is dedicated to the God Sun.
A new pot of clay also known as ‘Pongal Paanai’ is adorned by mango leaves in the neckline and thereafter is placed atop the fireplace. An elderly member starts cooking the food by the assistance of other family members. Boiling of water and milk takes place in the pot
Thai Pongal is an important day which gives the name ‘Pongal’ its real value. Literally the word Pongal means ‘to overflow’. So, when the milk starts spilling over the shouting of the words ‘Ponggalo Ponggal’ is done by the people and the rice is added to it.
After adding the rice the remaining item are added to it that consists of ‘Chakkarai’ that means brown sugar or ‘jaggery or ‘Katkandu’ meaning sugar candy, ‘Payaru’ that means roasted green grams, cashew nuts, raisins, etc. A few pods of cardamom are also added to give an extra flavour to the meal.
The Pongal after being prepared is placed on a banana leaf. Prayers are offered along with this food to the respective deities after sunrise.
The Pongal is shared by the people later on as they regard it as lucky for the harvesting purposes. The people visit their neighbourhood and exchange greetings as a mark of thanksgiving.
FEAST: A sweet preparation is made from sesame seeds and jaggery on this day. khichdi is eaten by the people on this day.