Pongal – A thanking festival
This is the widely celebrated festival in Tamilnadu, mainly celebrated by the farmers as they thank Sun for providing them enough sunlight for their crops to grow. No wonder it is also called as the farmers festival. It is celebrated on the first day of the Tamil month ‘Thai’. It will usually fall on January 14th or 15th. This is the month when the farmers will harvest the rice. Using that new rice they will make sweet pongal and will present it to the god Sun along with sugarcane. Pongal is celebrated for 4 days.
This is celebrated the day before Pongal, which is about cleaning the house and removing all the waste from the house. Most of the people do the whitewash to their home during this time. Now-a-days burning the wastes has been banned as the amount of carbon-di-oxide in the air was increasing considerably during those days. I loved burning of wastes in the morning on this day as it will give some amount of relief from winter. At morning, children will beat the tom-tom to good effect.
This is the important day of all four days. As I have already explained this is the day when the farmers will thank the Sun. After the year long toiling at the fields to produce food grains for the world, they will be happy on these days as most of the harvesting will be done. This is the only festival they will celebrate with utmost joy.
Maatu pongal(Bullock pongal):
On the next day of the pongal they will celebrate Ox pongal, thanking the contribution of bullocks in the agricultural activities like land ploughing. They will be conducting Jallikattu on this day, where the man will fight with Ox and whoever wins will get prize. But it is not a healthy practice in these days as it involves some brutal methods to make the bullock more vigorous before the play.
Literally ‘Kaanum’ means ‘Seeing’. This is the last day of the pongal where people will go to nearby places to visit places or their neighbours. In villages they will travel in bullock carts with food for the whole day. Lots of sport activities will be conducted within the villages and potbreaking is a traditional game for pongal. With the visits, the pongal festival will finish off.
As a person, who brought up near the city I don’t know the actual value of Pongal festival, and whatever I have said above as said by my parents and what I have read over the years. But somehow I could feel what it really meant to them. This could be a global festival as most of the farmers will celebrate after a year long work at the fields but maybe at different times. I have heard that in Punjab too, farmers will celebrate after the wheat harvest. But I don’t know the exact date.
Plan for this pongal:
This year I am going for a long weekend from tomorrow to celebrate pongal. I am having lots of plan for next 5 days. Lots of events were happening around Chennai like ‘Chennai Sangamam’, ‘Trade fair’, ‘Book fair’ and what’s more some new films are releasing. And also we are having our get-together this Saturday. We have got a lukewarm response for that. But we are going to have it as if we wait for everybody to join then we will wait for forever.
Let us hope in this year our government will concern about agriculture and our farmers little more along with economic problems, as they are the Brahma for food. I wish you all a very happy Pongal and Mahasankaranthi 🙂 Be happy….