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FESTIVAL OF PONGAL

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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 rice. 

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 following day.


Puja
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.

The Bonfire
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 Sun.

pongalMattu-Pongal, 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 ingredients.

Pongal Recipe

Rice     1 cup 
Moong dal  1/4 cup
Ginger Fresh   1 inch piece finely chopped
Ginger dry   1' inch or 1 tsp
salt  acc to taste
Cumin seeds 2 tsp
Pepper corns  3 tsp
Hing 1 tsp
Butter/Ghee/Margarine 5 tsp  
Water 4 cups
Cashews 1/4 cup

Coarse grind the pepper corns. Heat a Pan & dry roast rice & dal until you get a nice aroma. In a new pot add the ghee. Now add Cumin, Ginger, hing & pepper powder. Add the rice and daal and water. Cover & allow to cook. Fry Cashews in a tsp ghee & garnish with pongal. Serve hot as a light meal.

 

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