Pongal is a festival celebrated mainly in Tamil Nadu and other Tamil speaking countries. Pongal is celebrated to thank God for the good harvest produced during the year. The festival is celebrated over a period of four days, between January 13 and January 16. The last day of the 'Maargazhi' month of the Tamil calendar which falls on January 13th is celebrated as Bhogi Pongal. The other three days of festivals fall on the 'Thai' month.
The first day is celebrated as Bhogi pongal. On this day people get up early, collect their old items and burn them. This tradition is performed to drive away all the bad memories of the year gone by and look forward to a new year. People then clean and decorate their homes. Bhogi pongal has no such tradition or history but is equally important in terms of festivals.
Thai pongal or Surya pongal is the main festival on the first day of the thai month in the Tamil calendar. People decorate their doorsteps with a beautifully designed kholam or rangoli. The main tradition is to cook raw rice at sun rise. Freshly harvested sugarcanes are arranged artistically in either side of an earthen pot outside the house. A light fire is used to burn the rice in the pot. When the rice boils over the pot a conch is blown and the whole family shouts 'Pongalo pongal'. This procedure of boiling raw rice at sunset is believed to bring prosperity and good supply of food for the family.
Like every other festival, Pongal is a time to be sent with the family, wear new clothes and share your fortune with your near and dear ones. There is an aura of celebration in the streets of tamil Nadu during Pongal. Pongal, is a very famous delicacy in Tamil nadu and this dish is the main course during breakfast and lunch. Sweet pongal, vadai and murruku are other savories which the people prepare and share among others.
Harvesting crops is impossible without the help of cattle. As a show of gratitude to these magnificent beasts, we celebrate Mattu pongal on the thirs day. Farmers and owners of cattle bathe their cows and decorated by painting their horns and face. Jallakatu is a very famous game played in certain parts of Tamil Nadu. Hundreds of youth line up to hold a bull by its horn and tackle it with bare hands. The sport, although dangerous to both man and cattle, joins thousands of spectators from all across the world every year
Kannum pongal is the final day of pongal festivals. This is the time when the entire family from different parts of the country meet up and have a gala time together. They visit zoo's, beaches and watch movies. Kannum pongal provides entertainment after the orthodox pongal celebration. Families get rid of personal tensions and enjoy the final day of their most important festival. Brothers show their undying love to married sisters by giving valuable gifts, expecting nothing in return.
Pongal is celebrated all across India with different names like 'Sankranthi' and 'Biju' . Celebrating a good harvest and thank God for everything one has the main message put forward by celebrating pongal. Thanking the cattle for toiling all year and spending time with your near ones, marriages within you a feeling of pride and joy of being an Indian and to experience such wonderful festivals.