Yesterday was the birth of a new month in the Tamil Calender. It marks the journey of the sun northwards. The birth of this month signifies the ending of winter and the onset of spring/summer. The first three days of this month is the time when farmers gather their first harvest and welcome prosperity into their homes. In rural Tamil Nadu, rice is boiled in earthen pots and allowed to boil over. This boiling over symbolises a fullness an overflow of prosperity. This festival is known as Pongal (which is a dish of rice).
This festival is mostly celebrated by Tamil Hindus but then this being a celebration of harvest and prosperity, I suppose everyone who is part of the Tamil culture should be observing this day as an important one. Of course this regional festival does not signify much to the followers of the Gregorian calender except for the fact that offices and educational institutions are closed; One can sleep late into the morning and have a relaxed day with family and friends.
The first day of the month of Thai (Tamil Calender) is called the day of Bhogi where people get up before the sun rises and collect all the old things of their house. They make a bon-fire and burn all the old things. This is again symbolic of ushering in the new and getting away with the old. Rural Tamil Nadu is a sight to behold during this festival. This is also a sort of thanksgiving where the farmer is grateful to the earth for her bountiful blessing of grain which is the main source of livelihood for the farmer.
The festival is also famous for sugar-cane which is an important aspect of the celebrations. The third day of the festival is exclusively devoted to bulls as they are an important part of agriculture. The bulls are decorated and fed with delicacies and taken to the temple and offered prayers. There are also bull taming sports in many parts of Tamil Nadu known as Jallikattu but this gory practice is banned by the Government but inspite that in many places these sports occur.
Many parts of India celebrate this festival along with Tamil Nadu. In Andhra Pradesh this festival is known as Makar Sankranthi. We don't celebrate this day as they do in the rural places but for thanksgiving one need not stay in rural India. Isn't it?
Picture courtesy: Internet
What a fascinating post about Pongal! Actually, I have never heard of this festival, so it was a pleasure to read this. There seems to be a never-ending flow of information coming from you at any given time, Susan. And all of it is most interesting, I have to say. Well, I do hope you enjoyed your day of celebration, and happy rest of the week to you!ReplyDelete
what a wonderful story! and history - and beautiful images to go along - it's true what nevine says - you are such a never-ending wonderful flow of information for us all - i love hearing of the customs of other people in other places - makes me feel that much more connected to the world - thank you for making that possible and in such a beautiful way!ReplyDelete
Nevine: Glad that the post showed you a facet of South India. That is why this platform of blogging is quite nourishing. We learn so many new things on a regular basis. Wish you could come to India sometime.ReplyDelete
Jenean: Thanks for your lovely words Jenean. As always you have no dearth of nice words. Glad that I have great blogger friends as you.
I simply loved this post. I do not know much about India, so this was informative about this particular part. I have a friend in New York that is married to a woman from India. He told me of the most beautiful and traditional wedding I have ever heard of. Lovely.
I am glad that you liked this post. Traditions and cultures are as myriad as fingerprints.
That is why we all are glued to this medium for we stumble upon new things almost every given day.
This is new to me and so interesting, as all the things you post- my friend...ReplyDelete
If I want to learn something new every day I know the right place to come...
thanks so much for everything!
Dulce: Thanks for coming by. Happy that something from here touched base. You don't have to thank me, just sit back and read!ReplyDelete
This is so interesting thank you for sharing the rituals of welcoming summer and spring...I particularly like the idea of burning old things to make space for new things to grow.ReplyDelete
Thanks for coming by. Yes, it is indeed interesting to observe the cultures and eccentricities of diverse communities. But the burning of old things will soon have to stop as there is a grave problem of smog in the city which delays flights, trains and other modes of transport.