A festival that symbolizes the arrival of sun in the southern hemisphere, Pongal is celebrated as a harvest festival in Tamil Nadu. It is likea thanksgiving to God, the cattle, sun and earth. 'Pongal' is derived from the word ‘ponga’ that factually connotes 'boil' and therefore Pongal means 'spillover' or something that is 'overflowing'.
Pongal is a significant festival of Tamil Nadu and is celebrated for four days. The first day is known as Bhogi, in which people throw away or burn the old household things and go to buy the new ones. It signifies the beginning of a new cycle. The next day is called Perum or Surya Pongal. It is the most imperativeday of Pongal. On this day, people offer prayers to Lord Surya and hence pay homage to sun. The houses are decorated with special design called Kolam, which is drawn using red clay and rice flour. People wear new clothes. The third day is Mattu Pongal that is marked by praying to the cattle. The cattle are worshipped because it helps in getting better harvest.
Kanum Pongal is the fourth day on which people spend time with their dear ones or go on a picnic with family and friends. This popular festival also embraces dancing, exchange of gifts and the contests of buffalo taming.
There are many famous legends behind the Pongal festival. Out of them, the most famous one is that of Govardhan Mountain. As per the Hindu mythology, Lord Krishna on the day of Bhogi (the first day of Pongal), raisedmountain on his little finger in order to save people and cattle from the anger of rain god Indra.As per the famous tale of Lord Shiva, it is believed that Nandi, the ox, was sent by his owner Lord Shiva to tell people to take an oil bath everyday and eat just one time in a month. Nandi, by confusion, asked people to bath once in a month and eat daily. On this, Lord Shiva became angry and sent Nandi on earth in order to help people in harvesting. Henceforth, Pongal became a well-known harvest festival.
There are many regional names of Pongal. Some of them are :
Makar Sankranti Lohri Bihu Hadaga Poki