People enjoy activities related to ‘Pongal’ while there is chill in the air. ‘Pongal’ festival is celebrated on 14th January of every year. Celebration spreads over four days making it the longest festival in Tamil calendar. Age old belief is that `’Thai’’ gives hope and brings good fortune so people are keen with joy.
Pongal festival is extremely important for farming community because it marks end of harvesting season. Markets start getting stacks of sugar canes, turmeric saplings and groups of farm products. Putting together for ‘Pongal’ festival is equally exciting as celebrating the occasion that brings prosperity.
Also, ‘Pongal’ is celebrated as thanksgiving festival for various Hindu deities. ‘Pongal’ festival begins with `Bhogi’ on the first day. It is considered to be a prelude to the celebrations that follow. `Bhogi‘ is observed as a thanksgiving occasion to Lord `Indra’, the God of Heavens. On the next day, ‘Pongal’ day is celebrated to worship `Surya’ or Sun God. This day marks a new beginning when people go for joyful celebrations. Third day, `Maattu Pongal’, cattle that are best friends of farmer are glorified. On the fourth day, `Kaanum Pongal’ marks the end of four days celebrations.
During ‘Pongal’, people usually go sightseeing, shopping and exchanging pleasantries with relatives and friends. During this time, farmers are generally glowing with money sold from their produce. On all fours days of ‘Pongal’ festival people make it a point to visit temples. They pray to Gods in temples and summon their blessings for good and prosperous year.
Amidst celebration cheering, in front of all eyes, is traditional sport of courage, `jallikattu’ [bull-fight]. Bravery of youth is tested at ‘jallikattu’. Objective of this sport is to extract the reward. This is placed in a cloth and tied to horns of bulls. Unlike Spanish matador, the people who retrieve the bulls do not kill the bull. In the past, these noble youths were selected as grooms for village young maidens. ‘Pongal’ has many unique features with various colourful celebrations. Festival brings lots of happiness and joy in the family.