India is a land of diversity and its diversity varies with geography— each with a unique tradition, story, and food. This uniqueness serves as the reminder of the copious abundance of the nature and the importance of natural resources, especially when the entire world is battling environmental change.
What is Pongal?
The term 'Pongal' is derived from the Tamil literature which means 'to boil'. It is an ancient festival of South India, particularly Tamils. It is basically a harvest festival which is celebrated for four-day long in Tamil Nadu in the month of January-February (Thai) during the solar equinox after harvesting of crops like rice, sugarcane, turmeric etc.
This festival is celebrated in four day long and each day marked by different festivities- First day is called Bhogi festival; Second day is called Thai Pongal; Third day is called Mattu Pongal; Fourth day is called Kaanum Pongal.
History of Pongal
The history of the festival can be traced back to the Sangam Age and considered as the ‘Dravidian Harvest festival’. But some of the historian claims that this festival is dated back at least 2,000 years old. It was celebrated as Thai Niradal.
According to the legends, during this festive season unmarried girls prayed for agricultural prosperity of the country and for the purpose, they observed penance during the Tamil month of Margazhi. All through the month, they abstained themselves from the consumption of milk and milk products. They didn't oil their hair throughout the month. The use of harsh words was strictly refrained by them. Ceremonial bath in the early morning was part of the ritual of the penance.
Why Pongal is celebrated?
According to the Hindu Mythology, Lord Shiva once asked Basava (Bull) to visit on the Earth and ask the Human to have an oil massage and bath every day. But Basava (Bull) announced that eat daily and have an oil bath once in a month. This makes the Lord Shiva furious and he cursed the Basava (Bull) to live on the Earth forever and said that Basava (Bull) have to plough the fields and help people produce more food. Hence, people after harvesting celebrate this festival with crops and cattle.
Importance of the Pongal
It is basically harvesting festival or it can considered as the 'thanks giving festival' because this festival is celebrated to thank the Sun God and Lord Indra for helping farmers in getting better-yielding crops. During the festival people reject old belongings and welcome new stuff.
Significance of the Pongal
As we know that India is an agricultural country and the majority of the festivals are inclined towards nature. Just like another festival, the Pongal is referred to as Uttarayan Punyakalam which bears special significance in Hindu mythology and is considered extremely auspicious.