Today our Indian friends celebrate Pongal. A colleague of our from India who is attending the same course as I am gave us some interesting facts about Pongal. Before this I knew Pongal was celebrated by the Indians as a mark of the end of the harvest season. They would celebrate it by cook rice in a clay pot. Indians celebrate Pongal just like how the Chinese celebrate the Chinese New Year.
However, when I found out more about Pongal from my Indian colleague.
Here are some of the facts that I gathered from her:
The first day of Pongal known as "Bhogi Pongal" is a day for the family gathering and is dedicated to Lord Indra, the king of the deities and God of the Clouds and Rains. It is also the beginning of the New Year according to the Malayalam calendar and before sunrise, a hugh bonfire of useless things in the home is lit that is kept burning throughout the night. The houses are then cleaned till they shine and are decorated with Kolams painted using rice flour. The harvest of rice, turmeric and sugar cane is brought in for next day.
The second day of Pongal known as "Surya Pongal" is dedicated to the Sun God. The granaries are kept full on this day and Sun God with his rays are painted on a plank as he is worshipped with the birth of the new auspicious month of Thai. Since the word "Ponga" means "to boil" representing plentiful and excess yield, a special dish is cooked on this day in a mud-pot that comes in innovative shapes and have artistic designs on them called "Pongapani". A colourful sugarcane market is also set up on this day. The special dish is called "Sarkkarai Pongal" and is offered to Sun God with sugarcane sticks.
The third day known as "Mattu Pongal" is dedicated to the cattle as cowherds and shepherds pay thanks to their cows and bulls, wash them, paint their horns and cover them with shinning metal caps. They are fed "pongal" and tinkling bells are tied around their neck. Cattle races are conducted and in the game called "Manji Virattu" groups of young men chase running bulls. Bull fights called "Jallikattu" are also arranged at some places where young men have to take the money bags tied to the horns of the ferocious bulls single-handedly and without the use of arms.
The forth day is celebrated as "Kanni Pongal" where unmarried girls cooks Ponggal wishing for wedding bells soon.
Long story huh?
To know more about Pongal check out this site: