Pongal is a four-days-long harvest festival celebrated in Tamil Nadu, a southern state of India. For as long as people have been planting and gathering food, there has been some form of harvest festival. Pongal, one of the most important popular Hindu festivals of the year. This four-day festival of thanksgiving to nature takes its name from the Tamil word meaning “to boil” and is held in the month of Thai (January-February) during the season when rice and other cereals, sugar-cane, and turmeric (an essential ingredient in Tamil cooking) are harvested.
Mid-January is an important time in the Tamil calendar. The harvest festival, Pongal, falls typically on the 14th or the 15th of January and is the quintessential ‘Tamil Festival’. Pongal is a harvest festival, a traditional occasion for giving thanks to nature, for celebrating the life cycles that give us grain. Tamilians say ‘Thai pirandhaal vazhi pirakkum’, and believe that knotty family problems will be solved with the advent of the Tamil month Thai that begins on Pongal day. This is traditionally the month of weddings. This is not a surprise in a largely agricultural community – the riches gained from a good harvest form the economic basis for expensive family occasions like weddings.
According to Hindu Mythology, Lord Shiva once asked Basava (Bull) to visit on the Earth and ask the Human to have an oil massage and bath every day. But Basava (Bull) announced that eat daily and have an oil bath once in a month. This makes the Lord Shiva furious and he cursed the Basava (Bull) to live on the Earth forever and said that Basava (Bull) has to plough the fields and help people produce more food. Hence, people after harvesting celebrate this festival with crops and cattle.
It is basically a harvesting festival or it can be considered as the ‘thanksgiving’ festival’ because this festival is celebrated to thank the Sun God and Lord Indra for helping farmers in getting better-yielding crops. During the festival, people reject old belongings and welcome new stuff.
As we know that India is an agricultural country and the majority of the festivals are inclined towards nature. Just like another festival, the Pongal is referred to as Uttarayan Punyakalam which bears special significance in Hindu mythology and is considered extremely auspicious.