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Pongal Festival, Pondicherry

Pongal Festival Overview

Introduction: Harvest has always had taken up special place in our agrarian country. Tamil Nadu is not an exception either. The Pongal Festival is the most important and the most prominent of all Hindu festivals in Tamil Nadu. This four day festival is a ritual thanksgiving to god for the bountiful harvest that they have been blessed with. The word Pongal is derived from the Tamil word meaning 'to boil'. Notably, the Pongal Festival coincides with the harvest of some of the important ingredients of Tamil cooking such as rice, sugar cane, turmeric, etc. Activities: The Pongal festival runs for four days. The first day is observed in honor of Lord Indra, the god of thunder for prosperity to befall their lands. This is called the Bhogi Festival and is marked by the burning of useless household articles and dancing of young girls around the fire lighted for this purpose. The second day of Pongal is celebrated with the cooking of rice in milk out of doors and offering the same to the Sun God along with other oblations. A turmeric plant is tied round the pt in which the rice is cooked. The Kolam, a traditional motif drawn with white lime at the door way is a special feature of the festivities. The third day is the day of Matuu Pongal where, the cow, an important aide in the act of cultivation is decked up with flower garlands, bells, trinkets, and other fineries and fed with pongal. The cows are thereafter taken to the village centre where the young men race each others cows. The Fourth and the last day is known as Knau or Kannum Pongal day. On this day, a turmeric leaf is washed and then placed on the ground. On this leaf are placed, the left overs of sweet Pongal and Venn Pongal, ordinary rice, rice colored red and yellow, betel leaves, betel nuts, two pieces of sugarcane, turmeric leaves, and plantains. All the women, young and old, of the house assemble in the courtyard. The rice is placed in the centre of the leaf, while the women pray for the prosperity of their and their brothers' families. Arati is performed for the brothers with turmeric water, limestone and rice, and this water is then sprinkled on the kolam in front of the house. The women perform this ritual before taking their bath.

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