‘Pongal’ is one of the most popular harvest festivals in South India, mainly Tamil Nadu. Pongal falls in the mid of January every year. It is the auspicious beginning of the Uttarayan – sun’s journey northwards. This festival lasts for four days.
The word Pongal literally has two connotations. Firstly it is the name of the special dish cooked on this day. Secondly, the word Ponga means to boil. So the word Pongal means that which is overflowing.
The festival is celebrated for four days. On, the first day, Bhogi, the old clothes and materials are thrown away and fired, marking the beginning of a new life. The second day, Pongal day is celebrated by boiling fresh milk early in the morning and allowing it to boil over the vessel – a tradition that is the literal translation for Pongal. People also prepare savories and sweets, visit each other’s homes, and exchange greetings. On the third day, Mattu Pongal is meant to offer thanks to the cows and buffaloes, as they are used to plow the lands. On the last day, Kanum Pongal, people go out to picnic.