Pongal is a popular harvest festival celebrated for four days in Tamilnadu and many Southern parts of India. The popular festival is observed during the solar equinox in the month of Thai, ie. January/February season falls near another Hindu festival called Lohri each year. Therefore, the festival is also known as “Thai Pongal”, while these four days are called “Uttarayanam”. In other states of India, this festival is celebrated as “Makar Sankranti”.
The four-day festival is celebrated to commemorate the Sun God to bring prosperity and a good harvest into our lives. In the beginning, i.e. The first day of Pongal in Chennai marks the beginning of Uttarayanam and the regional new year. The day is celebrated to exhibit our gratitude towards nature for blessing humans. Let’s find out about the festival in detail.
As per the Tamil calendar, here are the dates of the Pongal festival:
Bhogi Pongal - Sunday, January 15, 2023
Thai Pongal - Monday, January 16, 2023
Mattu Pongal - Tuesday, January 17, 2023
Kaanum Pongal - Wednesday, January 18, 2023
Pongal is celebrated in January as the crops like sugarcane, rice, turmeric etc. are reaped by the farmers. They worship the Sun God, i.e. the God of Light, to bring good health & wealth, peace and prosperity to our lives. Apart from this, the month of Pongal is also known as the month of weddings in South India.
There are several beliefs and conceptions among people behind why Pongal is celebrated. Among them, one of the most popular stories is about Lord Krishna & Lord Indra. According to a legend, it is believed that one day, Lord Indra, “God of Rain” flooded the village of Gokul out of his rage. And in the process of teaching him a lesson, Lord Krishna saves the villagers by lifting the Huge Govardhan Mountain on his finger. This made Lord Indra realize his mistake and seek forgiveness. Later, the day is remarked with worshipping Lord Indra, the God of Rain.
Another belief is related to Lord Shiva. As per the story, one day, Lord Shiva asked his bull “Nandi” to visit the earth and spread the message among people to take a bath daily. However, Nandi misunderstood it and told the people to eat every day and take a bath once a month. This made Lord shiva enraged, and he cursed and Banished Nandi and ordered him to live on earth to help humans reap a harvest so that they could have enough food to consume every day. Quite interesting, right?
People in Tamilnadu celebrate the festive day with utmost excitement and fun. Let’s take a look at what is the first day of Pongal known as and how this 4-day Pongal celebration takes place on different days. From decorating homes to dressing up nicely and preparing delicious recipes to meeting loved ones, the festival is full of love & excitement. Here are the types of Pongal.
Do you know that the 1st day of Pongal is known as Bhogi Pongal? On this day, people praise Lord Indra, the God of Rain, to bless the land with rain to yield adequate crops. People clean and decorate their houses, get dressed in new clothes and dispose of their old stuff to signify a new beginning.
People on this day light a bonfire, sing and dance around it to show their love to Lord Indra. The interesting thing is that the bonfire is made from agricultural waste and unnecessary household wood. But when is Bhogi celebrated? This year in 2023, it will be celebrated on January 15.
After celebrating the first day of Pongal, this second day of the Pongal festival is celebrated as Thai Pongal or Surya Pongal, which is dedicated to Lord Sun. It is believed that the main Pongal is celebrated on this day. People take an early bath in the morning and make a traditional rangoli, known as “Kolam”, at the house's entrance. They wear traditional dresses and worship Lord Sun by offering a pot of milk & boiled rice. Along with this “Sakkararai Pongal”, various other recipes are prepared on this day.
The third day of Pongal is devoted to livestock, such as bulls and cows, etc., that have a vital role in agriculture. On this day, cows are adorned with garlands and bells and are worshipped by the farmers.
The first day of Pongal is followed by the fourth day of Pongal, known as Kaanum, dedicated to relaxation and enjoyment. On this day, people meet their relatives & friends and exchange sweets and well-being. Rangoli is made outside the homes to attract happiness and prosperity. Also, on the occasion of this festival, sisters perform the Arti of their brothers and pray for their happiness.
Pongal is the most popular harvest festival celebrated in Tamilnadu with great excitement and devotion, but if you want to experience genuine festive vibes, you can visit any of these below-mentioned places that celebrate Pongal with utmost enthusiasm. Let’s have a look:
Known as the City of Temples, Madurai is one of the most outstanding places to witness the grand celebration of the Pongal festival. The place holds the true spirit of Pongal in its fields & temples. Various activities are arranged on this day for visitors’ entertainment.
The terrific city is not only known for its world-famous Thanjavur paintings but also for the great celebration of Pongal. The houses are all decorated with Kolams, and the people especially visit the place to witness its Brihadeshwara Temple. Mattu Pongal is celebrated with great enthusiasm and fun.
Situated at a distance of 44 km from the city of Coimbatore, Pollachi is a beautiful city with many iconic tourist places to visit. You must visit the Masani Amman temple to witness the grand Pongal celebrations.
Now you know that Pongal is a harvesting festival in an agricultural-based country to show gratitude to mother nature and holy gods and goddesses for blessing humans. It is celebrated with great fun and joy in South India, mainly in Tamilnadu. May you all have a happy and prosperous Pongal this year!!
1. Why is the festival of Pongal observed?
Pongal is a winter harvest festival dedicated to the Sun God and is mainly celebrated in Tamilnadu with great zeal in the month of January.
2. When is the Pongal 2023?
This year, Pongal 2023 will be celebrated from 15th January to 18th January.
3. Is Pongal festival & Onam the same?
Pongal is recognised by different names in several states of India. For example, Pongal in Tamil Nadu, Nabanna in Bengal, Bihu in Assam, Baisakhi in Punjab and Onam in Kerala.