This is a three- day harvest
Festival and one of the major events in South India. In Tamil Nadu
where it is called Pongal, on the first day, the sun is worshipped,
signifying its movement from Cancer to Capricorn. On the next day,
Mattu Pongal, cows and bullocks so essential to the rural world, are
part of a thanksgiving ceremony and are fed on freshly harvested
In Karnataka, the festival is
called Sankranti; cows and bullocks are painted and decorated and fed
on Pongal ( a seet preparation of rice). In the evening, the cattle in
each village are led out in procession to the beat of drums and music.
In some towns of the south, the festival is climaxed by a kind of
bull-fight in which young men try to wrest bundles of currency notes
from the horns of a ferocious bull. In Andhra Pradesh, every household
displays its collection of dolls for three days.
Pongal is celebrated on the
same day as Bihu, Lohri and
Bhogi. But Pongal stretches over four days. The word Pongal literally
means "boiling over" and celebrates the bounteous crops in
the fields. This festival is the biggest event of the year for the
Tamils as well as for the people of Andhra Pradesh.
Bogi festival or Bhogi is the
first day of Pongal and is celebrated in honor of Lord Indra,
"the God of Clouds and Rains". Lord Indra is worshiped for
the abundance of harvest, thereby bringing plenty and prosperity to
the land. Thus, this day is also known as Indran. On Bhogi all people
clean out their homes from top to bottom, and collect all unwanted
goods. This day is meant for domestic activities and of being together
with the family members.
All the houses from the richest to the humblest are thoroughly
scrubbed and whitewashed. Homes are cleaned and decorated with "Kolam"
- floor designs drawn in the white paste of newly harvested rice with
outlines of red mud. Often pumpkin flowers are set into cow-dung balls
and placed among the patterns. Fresh harvest of rice, turmeric and
sugarcane is brought in from the field as preparation for the
A special puja is performed on the first day of Pongal before the
cutting of paddy. Farmers worship the sun and the earth by anointing
their ploughs and sickles with sandalwood paste. It is with these
consecrated tools that the newly-harvested rice is cut.
Another ritual observed on this day is Bhogi Mantalu, when useless
household articles are thrown into a fire made of wood and cow-dung
cakes. Girls dance around the bonfire, singing songs in praise of the
gods, the spring and the harvest. The significance of the bonfire, in
which is burnt the agricultural wastes and firewood is to keep warm
during the last lap of winter.
In Andhra Pradesh this day is celebrated by girls burning their old
clothes and wearing the new ones after an oil massage and bath. Then
follows Pongal Panai, a ritual in which new earthenware pots are
painted and decorated with turmeric, flowers and mango leaves.
The second day, Surya-Pongal,
is dedicated to the Sun (Surya). On this day, pongal
(rice cooked in milk and jaggery) is bolied by women who offer it to
the third day, is the day dedicated to the worship and veneration of
cattle (mattu). The horns of the cattle is decorated with
turmeric and kumkum, small bells and flowers are hung around
their neck and they are paraded in the streets. The pongal that
has been offered to the local deities is given to the cattle to eat.
The last day is known as Kanyapongal.
Colored balls of the pongal are
made and are offered to birds. A kind of bull-fight, called the 'Jallikattu'
is held in Madhurai, Tiruchirapalli and Tanjore in Tamil Nadu and
several places in Andhra Pradesh. Bundles containing money are tied to
the horns of ferocious bulls, and unarmed villagers try to wrest the
bundles from them. Bullock Cart race and cock-fight are also held. In
Andhra Pradesh, every household displays its collection of dolls for
three days. Community meals are held at night with freshly harvested