Pongal is the Tamil harvest festival dedicated to the Sun God. The day preceding Pongal is called Bhogi. That day is for discarding old things in the house and welcoming new ones. Houses are cleaned, painted and re-decorated on this day. Age old tradition is to light a bonfire and burn up all the old stuff. However, tradition has given way to pollution and so the state declared a non-burning bhogi day this year.
Pongal is the next day. It is also the first day of the Tamil month Thai. So it is also known as Thai Pongal. At home we celebrate the festival by boiling rice with jaggery and milk. Then roasted cashews and raisins are added to the dish. Yumm..can't wait! This dish is called sweet pongal and is the landmark dish for Pongal! We also make Vada, Payasam and another important dish is the Sambar. This sambar has vegetables that are grown rurally.
All this food is cooked in the morning and prayers are offered to the Sun God. Rangolis are drawn and sugar cane is also consumed on this day.
The day after Pongal is Maatu Pongal. Mattu pongal is intended to honor the cattle that worked hard throughout the year. Cattle is also considered as wealth.They play a pivotal role in farms be it for ploughing, transport and provision of fertilizer. Tradionally cattle are garlanded, horns painted and decorated with Kumkum. In some places even new sarees are placed on the farm cow or bull's back.
And the final day of the festival, (the closing day rather) is Kannum Pongal. On this day, tradionally, families hang out together and socialise with other families. Beaches and Parks will be brimming with people on this day! It is day out for the entire family.
Every year the state of Tamil Nadu gets 3 days holidays straight off the calender for Pongal. This year, however, Pongal falls on a saturday. So the state has declared friday and the consecutive monday as holidays. It's going to be a wonderfully long weekend for Arav.
So yesterday, since it was the last working day for the week, Arav's school had a mini Pongal celebration. Children gathered, milk was boiled over and they all shouted "pongal-o-pongal". Then they all apparently devoured sweet pongal :)