‘Pongal’, the harvest festival, lasts for over four days in the month of ‘Shravan’. The word ‘Pongal’ literally means “boiling over”. Tamils celebrate harvest festival by decorating cows, going for processions and making colourful ‘Rangolis’. ‘Pongal’, a sweet porridge made of newly harvested rice, is eaten by all including animals. Each day of festival is important because special ritual is performed for special reason. ‘Pongal’ is celebrated on all four days with lots of grandeur in the villages. In the city, residents mainly celebrate ‘Pongal’ on second day only. ‘Pongal’ day is widely celebrated in Tamil Nadu, Andhra Pradesh and Karnataka.
The festival is celebrated for four days. On first day, Bhogi day, old clothes and materials are tossed into the burning fire. This marks beginning of a new life. On second day, ‘Pongal’ day, people boil fresh milk early in the morning. Boiling over the vessel is the tradition that literally translates to ‘Pongal’ in Tamil language. In addition, people make savoriness and sweets. They visit their friends, families and relatives homes. Also, they exchange greetings and give gifts. On third day, ‘Mattu Pongal’, people thank cows and buffaloes that help to plough lands. Specialty of this day is ‘Jallikattu’ that refers to contest of taming of violent bulls. On the fourth and last day, ‘Kanum Pongal’ people go out to picnics. During ‘Pongal’ season, people eat lots of sugar canes. Also, they decorate their houses with ‘Kolams’.
Although, ‘Pongal’ was originally festival for farming community, today this festival is celebrated by all. Since ‘Pongal’ coincides with northern festivals like ‘Makara Sankranti’, ‘Lohri’, it is known as ‘Pongal Sankranti’. Thus, it is celebrated in some form or the other in various parts of India.
Four days of ‘Pongal’ festival, Tamil Nadu harvest festival are as follows:
Four days of ‘Sankranti’ festival, Andhra Pradesh and Telangana harvest festival are as follows: