Pongal is traditionally celebrated at harvest time, it's a celebration of the prosperity associated with the harvest by thanking the sun god, rain and the farm animals that have helped in the harvest. In short thanking and pricing the “Nature’s Gift”. In villages, new clothes are worn and people owning cows find this festival important.
Pongal is celebrated by the Indian state of Tamilnadu as well as Tamils worldwide, including those in Sri Lanka, Malaysia, Mauritius, South Africa, USA, Canada and Singapore. The festival is at least 1000 years old although some believe that the festival is more than 2000 years old. As per historical evidence, it used to be celebrated as Puthiyeedu during Chola Empire days. It is thought that Puthiyeedu meant the first harvest of the year.
Tamils refer to Pongal as "Tamizhar Thirunal" (meaning "the festival of Tamils"). This festival originated in Tamil Nadu. The saying "Thai Pirandhal Vazhi Pirakkum" (தை பிறந்தால் வழி பிறக்கும்) meaning "the birth of the month of Thai will pave the way for new opportunities" is often quoted regarding the Pongal festival.
Usually, the festival takes place January 12 — 15. The festival is celebrated four days from the last day of the Tamil month “Maargazhi” (December — January) to the third day of Tamil month “Thai” (January — February).
The first day, Bhogi, is celebrated by throwing away and destroying old clothes and materials, by setting them on fire, marking the end of the old (sufferings, misdeeds, difficulties) and the emergence of the new (prosperity, happiness, joy).
The second day, Pongal, is the main day, falling on the first day of the Tamil month Thai (January 14-15). Also known as Sarkarai Pongal or Veetu Pongal, it is celebrated by boiling rice with fresh milk and Jaggery in new pots, which are later topped with brown sugar, cashew nuts and raisins early in the morning and allowing it to boil over the vessel placed center of the Kolam in front of the house main entrance. The boiled rice and the mixture overflows and the traditional expectation is that the flow should start from east from where sun rises. This tradition gives Pongal its name.
The moment the rice boils over and bubbles out of the vessel, the tradition is to shout of "Ponggalo Ponggal!" and blowing the sangu (a conch), a custom practiced during the festival to announce it was going to be a year blessed with good tidings. For Tamils, it is considered a good sign to watch it boil over, since it means that good luck and prosperity is forthcoming. Then New boiled rice is offered to the sun god during sunrise, a gesture which symbolises thanks to the sun and nature for providing prosperity. It is later served to the people present in the house for the ceremony. People also prepare savories and sweets such as vadai (a lentil/cereal based salty & bit spicy snack), murukuu (a rice/cereal based salty and crispy snack),payasam (a sweet dessert) and visit each other and exchange greetings.
The third day, Maattu Pongal, is for offering thanks to cattle, as they help farmer in different ways for agriculture. On this day the cattle are decorated with paint, flowers and bells. They are allowed to roam free and fed sweet rice and sugar cane. Some people decorate the horns with gold or other metallic covers. In some places, Jallikattu, or taming the wild bull contest, is the main event of this day and this is mostly seen in the villages. It was once upon a time showed the valor of the men and who were preferred compared to others as the bridegroom – A strong man
During the final day, Kaanum Pongal (the word kaanum means "to view") people visit their relatives, friends to enjoy the festive season or have a day out with their families. They also chew sugar cane and decorate their houses, streets, pathways with kolam. This day is a day to thank relatives and friends for their support in the harvest.
Although it started as a farmers festival, today it has become a national festival for all Tamils irrespective of their origins, caste or even religion. It is as popular in urban areas as is in rural areas.
TAMIL NEW YEAR
With the recent announcement in line with the historical data, Thai 1 – Thiruvalluvar Calendar (14 January) is the Tamil New Year.
Wish you a Happy Pongal and Prosperous Tamil New Year