Know all you need to know about Pongal with respect to competitive exams. You will get all the information about history, cultural importance, significance in modern India etc of Pongal festival and some related questions
Pongal, Celebrated as ‘Makara Sankranthi’, by the rest of the country is a 4-days-long harvest festival that marks the transit of the sun to the next zodiac sign. It is the birth of ‘thai’ masam or month, which religious hindus consider the day time of gods.
The term ‘pongal’ in Tamil means “to boil”, and this festival is celebrated as a thanksgiving ceremony for the year’s harvest. Pongal, one of the important Hindu festivals, falls around the same time as Lohri every year, which is around mid-January.
It is believed that Bhisma lay on a bed of arrows so that he could die during uttrayan. Any one who dies during Uttaryan- Jan 14th to July 21st is believed to be god’s favorite child and will spend some time in heaven.
The first day of Pongal – The Bhogi festival:
Bhogi Pongal is a sort of preparation day for Pongal. The next day is the most important Pongal day, which is referred as Thai Pongal or Perum Pongal. Bhogi is often referred as Lord Indra, the Vedic God of thunder and rain. It is also widely believed that Bhogi Pongal is the Indra Vizha festival observed during the Chola period.
The ritual of Bhogi Mantalu is also observed this day, during which useless items of the household are tossed into a bonfire traditionally made of cow dung cakes and wood.
The second day – Thai Pongal:
This day, a special ritual is performed where rice and milk are boiled together in an earthen pot – to which a turmeric plant is tied – out in the open as an offering to the sun god. Along with this, sticks of sugarcane, coconuts and bananas are also offered. Thai Pongal Festival Interesting facts
Another important aspect of this day is the kolam, the traditional design hand-drawn at the entrance of houses with lime powder. This auspicious drawing must be done early in the morning and only after a bath.
The third day – Mattu Pongal:
Mattu Pongal or the third day is dedicated to cows, who are considered the main source of wealth by Tamilians. Cows, decorated with bells, flowers and beads, are fed pongal dish, jaggery, honey, banana and other fruits. The annual bull-fight festival Jallikkattu is also celebrated on Mattu Pongal day in TamilNadu.
Legend has it that Lord Shiva had once sent his bull, Basava, to earth with a message for the mortals, asking them to have an oil massage and bath daily, and to eat once a month. Basava, however, mistakenly announced Shiva has asked people to eat daily and have an oil bath once a month. Thai Pongal Festival Interesting facts
Enraged, Shiva banished Basava to the earth forever, cursing he would have to plough the fields to help people produce more food. Hence, the association of this day to cattle.
The fourth day – Kaanum Pongal:
Kaanum (or Kanu) Pongal marks the last day of Pongal. On this day, a ritual is performed where the leftover sweet Pongal and other food are set out in the courtyard on a washed turmeric leaf, along with betel leaves, betel nuts and sugar cane.
Women of the household carry out this ritual in the name of their brothers, asking for their prosperity.
Significance in modern India:
Pongal is celebrated all over India with different names. In Gujarat, it is kite flying festival and is called “sankranti’, in Punjab it is ‘ Maghi’. In Haryana, Uttar pradesh, Rajastahan too it is celebrated colourfully as an invitation to the spring season. This festival is flamboyantly celebrated even in Nepal because Uttarayan punyakala is their holy period.
Festivals like Pongal is one of the few occasions where we get a reason to forget our busy day to day life, sit with your near and dear ones, chat with them and enjoy such simple pleasures of life. Additionally, people add few perks of kite flying and sweet eating.
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