Pongal is the harvest festival of Tamil Nadu. It is celebrated for four days in the mid-Januaiy commencing from the last day of the Tamil month Margazhi. The sun, the earth and the cattle are worshipped by farmers as thanks giving for a bounteous harvest.
People of Tamil Nadu took gay and enthusiastic with lots of hopes and aspirations. They clean their houses and decorate it with festoons before four or five days of festive occasion. They all try to complete these decorations on the eve of Pongal- ‘Bogi’.
They decorate the earthen vessels of big sizes with kumkum and swastika. After the preparations are made, either the eldest or the youngest member of the family fills the pot with rice, water and some milk as per tradition.
According to the belief associated with this festival, rice is cooked either in the courtyard or in the open fields instead of kitchens. People of Tamil Nadu firmly believe that the sun could see him the preparations in this way thus, they tried to please and satisfy the sun god.
Pongal is celebrated throughout the Tamil Nadu state. Even the adjoining border districts of Karnataka and Andhra Pradesh share and enjoy this festival. When Pongal is being celebrated in Tamil Nadu, at the same time people of the North and Maharashtra celebrate Makar Sakranti. And days before Pongal people of Punjab celebrate Lohri and do the Bhangra dance in full enthusiasm around bonfire.
On the Pongal morning people take a bath in rivers and lakes. They wear new clothes and offer cooking and offering rice to the sun god, they too eat rice. In the evening they visit their kith and kins and distribute the rice among them. Feeling of rich and poor, high and low- all seem to be vanished on this auspicious occasion.
The whole atmosphere becomes festive and people of all age enjoy the joys of festivity. Children look more active and enthusiastic as they find themselves free from the burdens of fulfilling the daily routine of their academic life.
The following day is Muttu Pongal. It is an honour to cattle because they are the real helpers to the farmers in growing and harvesting paddy. Cattle are the backbone of agriculture and therefore farmers decorate them beautifully on this occasion.
They look happy with their rich harvest and they bid goodbye to the festival at the end of the day with a hope that it will come again the next year and will fill their life with a lot of happiness and prosperity.
Thus, Pongal is a festival which brings new hopes and new zeal among the people of Tamil Nadu. It brightens their life. Hence, they wait for it impatiently. The festival is the symbol of hope which is the major factor in the man’s life.