Being an agricultural land, India celebrates harvest festival all over the country. Hence, ‘Pongal’ festival of Tamil Nadu is observed in other parts too. Same festival is known by different names and there are different rituals.
Many harvest festivals are celebrated in different parts of the country. Common thing for this festival is that it is celebrated on the same day. However, the name of the festival varies depending on the region. All harvest festivals have similar traditional rituals celebrated in many parts of the country. Generally there are bonfires burned for keeping warm, getting rid of unwanted things, and marking a new beginning. There are dancing and singing around this bonfire. People share community feasts usually made of fresh harvested crops, and exchange of special gifts. Details of different harvest festivals of India have been discussed below:
Other Names of Harvest Festival
In south India, people celebrate ‘Pongal’ festival for over four days. Newly harvested rice is cooked. This preparation is called ‘Pongal’.
In states of northern India, people celebrate harvest festival as ‘Makar Sankranti’. Most exciting function about this festival is kite flying. People believe that direction of wind changes on that day. People go to streets; fly colourful kites and capture other’s kites as many as possible.
On ‘Kaanum Pongal’, elaborate powdered chalk designs of sun god, Surya, is drawn. As soon as auspicious month of ‘Thai’ is underway, Surya is worshiped.
In Punjab, people celebrate ‘Lohri’ in January. It is believed to be to on the coldest day of the year. Hence, with cold winds blowing, people of Punjab celebrate by dancing bhangra around a bonfire. This fire is fed with sugarcane, rice and sesame seeds. They sing folk songs about a good harvest, a blessing from Gods.
‘Bihu’ / ‘Bohaggiyo Bhishu’:
In Assam, this is the greatest festival of Assamese people. They observe three ‘Bihus’ made of complex festivals. These are celebrated at different stages of cultivation of paddy, the principal crop of Assam.
The first day is ‘Bhogi’ to honour Lord Indra, the God of rain. There are many legends told about this day. The day begins with ‘til’ [sesame] oil bath. In the evening, there is a bonfire where unwanted things are burnt.
‘Thai Pongal’ is the harvest festival, Tamil equivalent of Thanksgiving. It is held to honour Sun, for a bountiful harvest. Families gather to rejoice and share their joy and their harvests with others.
The first day is ‘Poki’ festival during which old things are removed and discarded. Rainfall is very important in our lives. It is sacrosanct on first day’s celebration and is appropriately called ‘Poki’ festival.
In Maharashtra, ‘Hadaga’ festival is to pray for good monsoon and good harvest. People sing songs to Lord Indra, the God of rain, and pray for rain. Also, pictures of elephants, vehicle of Lord Indra, are drawn everywhere to invite God.