Pongal 2024: A Sun-ny Celebration of Harvest and Unity


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Pongal 2024: A Sun-ny Celebration of Harvest and Unity


Come January and the sun begins its apparent northward journey (Uttaryana) in the vast continuum of space. Mother Earth bestows her bounty upon mankind, plumping the beautiful yellow turmeric stems and loading the slender sugarcane stems with plentiful ambrosial juice. It is time for a copious harvest; and as is the Indian custom, a grand celebration ensues for four days – Bhogi, Pongal, Mattu Pongal, and Kaanum Pongal (Kanu). Markets are abuzz with shoppers thronging to procure rice, ghee, jaggery, sugarcane, turmeric, spices, and condiments. Needless to say, new clothes are purchased for all the members of the family for a riot of celebration and indulgence.

Harking Back to the Sangam Age

The celebration of Pongal can be traced back to the Sangam age and a mention of this in Sangam Tamil Literature and Sanskrit Literature marks the origins of Pongal between 200 BC to 300 AD. And what is mind-boggling is that to date, the method of cooking the dish Pongal has remained the same and the recipe unchanged. The word Pongal means to rise and flow in Tamil and it signifies the onset of abundance upon mankind after a bountiful harvest. Four days of thanksgiving, prayers, cheer, and revelry make the Pongal season a much-awaited and anticipated period in the Indian Calendar.

Day 1: Out With The Old…In With The New

Day one starts with Bhogi when old and useless household stuff is discarded and replaced with brand new buys. The “ring out the old and ring in the new” theme of Bhogi day applies to not only objects of everyday use but also to attitudes; to do away with hateful, boastful, egoistic tendencies and establish love and humility in the throne of our hearts and minds. Bonfires are lit to burn down old items and homes and yards are scrubbed, scoured and polished till they look shiny and sparkly. Symbolically to usher in the spirit of newness, women wear new silk or cotton sarees and men wear pure white dhotis. Poli / Obbattu / Holige is a delicious sweet bread-like delicacy prepared on Bhogi day in the South Indian states of Tamil Nadu, Andhra Pradesh, and Karnataka.

Day 2: Pongal In Full Swing

The holy day of Pongal starts with an early morning prayer invoking the grace of the ‘Sun God’ and offering gratitude for the benevolence received in the form of food, clothing, shelter and what not. Sweet and savoury Pongal is prepared and offered as Neivedya and later eaten as Prasad. Women dress up in silken regalia and go around distributing Pongal and spreading cheer. The entryway thresholds of homes are decorated with beautiful kolams and the front door is adorned with a garland of mango leaves which is the traditional way of ushering in the festive spirit.

Day 3: The Cow Connection

The third day celebrates cows, which provide the ultimate nourishment to mankind in the form of milk (curd, butter, ghee, and cheese). Cows and bulls are given a good bath, their horns painted with beautiful colours and they are paraded around village streets with the pleasant clop of their hooves and jingle-jangle of their neck bells. 

Day 4: Taking It Outdoors

Onto the fourth day, which is called “Kaanum Pongal” or “Kanu Pongal” – people merrily set out to enjoy themselves in the beauty of the outdoors – parks, beaches, and sandy river banks with their sumptuous picnic baskets and loosened purse strings. It is a day for fun, frolic and revelry, especially for the farmer folk after a hard year of toil.

So come and revel in the spirit of freshness and festivities this Pongal season by buying some bespoke silk and cotton sarees from Tulsi Madras from a wonderful collection that will blow your mind away.