‘Bogi’ or ‘Bhogi’ festival is the first day of ‘Pongal’. On this day, Lord Indra who is the God of Clouds and Rains is worshiped. Lord Indra is honoured and worshiped for abundant harvest. Thereby, bringing plenty and prosperity to the land. Hence, this ‘Bogi’ or ‘Bhogi’ day is also referred to as ‘Indran’. People clean out their homes from top to bottom, collect all the unwanted items. They usually spend their time in domestic activities with their family members.
Each and every house of the well-to-do and the humblest is thoroughly scrubbed and whitewashed. After homes are cleaned, they are decorated with ‘Kolams’. These are floor designs drawn with a white paste of rice outlined with red mud. Five petal pumpkin flowers set in lumps of cow-dung are placed in ‘Kolams’ for decoration. Before end of day, fresh harvest of rice, turmeric and sugarcane are brought from fields. This is in preparation for the following day.
Puja on ‘Bogi’/’Bhogi’/’Indran’:
On this first day, a special puja is performed before cutting of paddy. Farmers worship sun and earth by anointing all their ploughs and sickles with sandalwood paste. After that they use these sanctified tools to cut newly harvested rice.
Another ritual performed on the first ‘Pongal’ day is ‘Bhogi Mantalu’. Useless household articles are thrown into the fire made of wood and cow-dung cakes. Girls dance around this bonfire. They sing songs in praise of Gods, spring and harvest. Main purpose for burning agricultural wastes and firewood is for keeping warm during last lap of winter.
In Andhra Pradesh, first day of ‘Pongal’ is celebrated by girls who burn their old clothes. They go for an oil massage and bath before putting on new clothes. ‘Pongal Panai’, ritual for using new painted earthenware pots decorated with turmeric, flowers and mango leaves.
Sankranti / Pongal different regional names in India:
Makar Sankranti: Chhattisgarh, Goa, Odisha, Haryana, Bihar, Jharkhand, Andhra Pradesh, Telangana, Karnataka, Kerala, Madhya Pradesh, Maharashtra, Manipur, Rajasthan, Sikkim, Uttar Pradesh, Uttarakhand, Bihar, West Bengal and Jammu
Pongal, Uzhavar Thirunal: Tamil Nadu
Maghi: Haryana, Himachal Pradesh and Punjab. The day before, people of Punjab celebrate Lohri.
Bhogali Bihu: Assam
Shishur Saenkraat: Kashmir Valley
Khichdi: Uttar Pradesh and western Bihar
Makara Sankramana: Karnataka
In other countries too the day is celebrated but with different names and in different ways.
Bangladesh: Shakrain/ Poush Sangkranti
Nepal: Maghe Sankranti or Maghi- /Khichdi Sankranti
Laos: Pi Ma Lao
Cambodia: Moha Sangkran
Sri Lanka: Pongal, Uzhavar Thirunal