What Is Pongal?
The word Pongal comes from Tamil literature and means “to boil.” It is a traditional South Indian festival, especially among Tamils. It is a harvest festival observed in Tamil Nadu during the solar equinox in the months of January-February (Thai) after harvesting crops such as rice, sugarcane, turmeric, and others.
Pongal is a four-day celebration that takes place in India. The Bhogi festival is celebrated on the first day; Thai Pongal is celebrated on the second day; Mattu Pongal is celebrated on the third day; and Kaanum Pongal is celebrated on the fourth day.
The Pongal Festival’s History
The festival’s origins can be traced back to the Sangam Age, when it was known as the ‘Dravidian Harvest celebration.’ However, some historians suggest that this celebration has been going on for at least 2,000 years. At the time, it was known as Thai Niradal.
According to mythology, unmarried girls prayed for the country’s agricultural prosperity during this festival season, and they did so by observing penance during the Tamil month of Margazhi. They didn’t drink milk or milk products for the entire month, and they didn’t oil their hair. They severely prohibit the use of harsh language. As part of the penance ritual, a ceremonial bath is taken early in the morning.
As per the Hindu mythology, there is another story related to its history. Lord Shiva once instructed Basava (Bull) to visit the Earth and ask the Human to take an oil massage and bath every day. However, Basava (Bull) announced to eat every day and take an oil bath once a month. Lord Shiva was enraged, and he condemned the Basava (Bull) to dwell on Earth forever, telling him that he must plough the fields and assist mankind in producing more food. As a result, people observe this festival with crops and cattle after harvesting.
Why Is The Pongal Festival Celebrated And Its Importance
It is a harvest celebration or a “thanksgiving” festival since it is held to thank the Sun God and Lord Indra for helping farmers in growing higher-yielding crops. Throughout the celebration, people reject old possessions and welcome new ones.