Pongal, also referred to as Thai Pongal which is celebrated for four days, is one of the important festivals of Tamil Nadu. Not only in Tamil Nadu but all over India, it is celebrated as Makar Sankranti or Sankranti, Uttarayana, Lohri. Thai Pongal, is one of the most important Tamil festivals and is observed in the Tamil Month Thai. Pongal takes its name from the famous traditional Tamilian food of the same name and is dedicated to Bhagwan Surya or the Sun God. The festival is also known as Surya Pongal and Perum Pongal. The festival symbolically signifies prosperity.
Thai Pongal is a four-day festival.
- The first day is Bhogi Pongal, it is observed on the last day of the Margazhi month.
- The second day is Pongal or Surya Pongalor Thai Pongal or Perum Pongal and is the most important day.
- The third day is Mattu Pongal.
- The fourth and final day of celebration is Kaanum Pongal.
The first day of Pongal is called Bhogi. It is a day where cleaning and discarding of old belongings are carried out to signify a fresh start. New clothes are worn, houses are decorated in the spirit of the festivity.
The second day is the main day of Pongal and is celebrated as Surya Pongal. On this day, the Sun God is honoured. Colourful decorative floor patterns called kolam are drawn at the entrance of one’s home, and each household cooks a pot of fresh rice with milk at auspicious timings.
As the milk boils freely over the pot, family members shout out happily “Pongalo Pongal”! After the Pongal is offered to the Sun God, they would feast on several Pongal dishes that are prepared especially for the day.