Know About Pongal Festival, Its History, Significance And Rituals

15 Jan 2020


Pongal Date and Time 2020

Pongal is a Tamil harvest festival which goes on for four days. These days correspond with the last day of the Tamil month Maargazhi to the third day of the Tamil month Thai. This year Pongal will be celebrated between 15th January and 18th January 2020. Besides, Sankranti Moment for Pongal will begin from 02:22 AM on 15th January.

Importance Of Pongal

Pongal is celebrated to thank the Sun God and Lord Indra for helping farmers in getting better-yielding crops. On Pongal day farmers prepare signature items like Pongal, Shakkara Pongal, sugarcane is offered. A special puja is also performed to thank the Sun god. This harvest festival is traditionally celebrated for four continuous days. The first day of the festival falls on 15th January is called Bhogi. This is the day when people reject old belongings and welcome new stuff. Farmers burn their old household materials in the fire while chanting “Paraiyana kadiwalum, Pudiyana Pugudulam” that literally means, “Let the old things go away and Let the new things come in”. The lesson inside is that people should change with changing time. New thoughts should be embraced and the old ones should be let go.

The Geographic Spread Of Pongal

Pongal is one of the most important festivals celebrated by people in the Indian states, Tamil Nadu, Andhra Pradesh, the Indian Union Territory of Pudducherry, Sri Lanka as well as Tamils worldwide. Pongal corresponds with Makar Sankranti, the winter harvest festival celebrated throughout India. In Tamil, 'Pongal' means 'overflowing', signifying abundance and prosperity. It also has a sweet by the same name, made of rice and milk, which is served during the festival. This, 'Pongal', as in the food variant also has different types to it, both sweet and savoury.

History Behind Pongal

Pongal celebrations date back at least 2,000 years old as evidence suggests that it was celebrated even during the medieval Chola Empire days. As per the story, it is a day to thank and appreciate the Sun God for helping in growing crops by providing energy for its growth as the farmers’ livelihood depends on it.

Pongal And Astronomy

Pongal has astronomical significance, it marks the beginning of Uttarayana, Sun's movement northwards, for a six month period. In Hinduism, Uttarayana is considered auspicious, as opposed to Dakshinaayana, the southern movement of the sun. All important events are scheduled during this period. This also corresponds with the time when Sun enters the 10th house of the zodiac, Makara or Capricorn. Do you want to know what planets tell about your life? Buy Janampatri. 

Practices & Rituals On The Four Days of Pongal:


The day preceding Pongal is called Bhogi. On this day people celebrate new belongings and discard old possessions at dawn in a bonfire. In villages, the horns of their oxen and buffalo are painted and farmers keep medicinal herbs in the North-East corner of their fields to ward off diseases and pests. In Andhra Pradesh, on the same day, Bhogi Pallu is celebrated. Fruits of the harvest along with seasonal flowers are collected, often mixed with money and then poured over children. The children then separate the money and sweet fruits and add to their collection kitty.

Lord Indra is also paid homage on this day for the rains and abundance of harvest, thereby bringing plenty and prosperity to the land. Another ritual Bhogi Mantalu is observed where useless household articles are thrown in the fire made up of cow dung cakes and wood. Girls dance around it singing praises of Deities, Spring and Harvest.

Thai Pongal

The main event during Pongal takes place on the second day of the four days. On the second day, a religious ritual or pooja is performed when rice is boiled in milk outdoors in an earthenware pot and is then symbolically offered to the Sun god along with other obligations. When it starts to bubble and overflow, freshly harvested rice is added and some participants blow a conch called sanggu, shout “Pongalo Pongal” and also recite “Thai Pirandhal Vazhi Pirrakum”. This is repeated frequently during the entire duration of this Festival. Then Pongal, the food variant, is served to everyone in the housePongal is a Tamil harvest festival which goes on for 4 days. These days correspond with the last day of the Tamil month Maargazhi to the third day of the Tamil month Thai.

Mattu Pongal

Mattu Pongal is celebrated the day after the Thai Pongal. Tamils regard cattle as sources of wealth for providing daily products, fertilizers and labour for ploughing and transportation. These cattle are treated with a lot of affection. Multicoloured beads, tinkling bells, sheaves of corn and flower garlands are tied around the neck of the cattle and they are then worshipped.

Kanu Piddi is a tradition for women and young girls, during which, females feed the birds. As a part of the 'kaka pidi, Kanu pidi' feast, women and girls place a feast of coloured rice, cooked vegetables, banana and sweet Pongal on ginger and turmeric leaves for cows to share and enjoy. They also offer the prayer for the brother-sister ties to remain strong forever and pray for their brothers well being. Are you facing problems in your personal life? Buy the Remedial Solutions for Personal Issues Report and get them addressed

According to a legend, once Shiva asked his bull, Nandi, to visit the earth and ask the mortals to have an oil massage and bath every day and to eat once a month. Inadvertently, Nandi announced that everyone should eat daily and have an oil bath once a month. This mistake enraged Shiva who then cursed Nandi, banishing him to live on earth forever. He would have to plough the fields and help people produce more food. Thus the association of this day with cattle.

Kaanum Pongal

Kaanum Pongal, the fourth day of the festival, marks the end of Pongal festivities for the year. The word kaanum means 'to visit' in this context. Many families hold reunions on this day, while, friends and relatives receive thanks for supporting the harvest. Before taking their bath, all women of the house assemble in the courtyard, the leftover Pongal, along with yellow, red coloured rice and ordinary rice is placed on turmeric leaves along with betel leaves and nuts, two pieces of sugarcane and plantains. The womenfolk then pray for the prosperity of their home and its members. Another religious ritual is then performed using turmeric water, limestone and rice, and this water is sprinkled on the kolam in front of the house.

In Andhra Pradesh, Mukkanuma, the final day of Pongal is celebrated by worshipping cattle. This day is famous amongst non-vegetarians. People who abstain from eating non-vegetarian during the first three days of this festival, then enjoy non-vegetarian food on the day of Mukkanuma. Thus Pongal is celebrated with great enthusiasm and fanfare in the state of Tamil Nadu and Andhra Pradesh.

Ganesha wishes all a Prosperous Pongal!

With Ganesha’s Grace,
The Team

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