Saturday, 31 January 2009
Tuesday, 27 January 2009
Saturday, 24 January 2009
Tuesday, 20 January 2009
Saturday, 17 January 2009
The fourth day of the three-day Pongal celebrations is called Kaanum Pongal. In few places this day is also known as Karinaal or Thiruvalluvar Day. It is dedicated to the sun god, Surya and has its roots in ancient Brahminical tradition. Since Pongal is a rural, agrarian based festival that celebrates the harvests, the sun is a vital part of the proceedings. This is because the Sun is the symbol of life on Earth. Without the Sun, crops cannot sprout and grow. Without the Sun, harvests will not be plentiful.
On Kaanum Pongal, elaborate powdered chalk designs of the sun god, Surya are drawn. As soon as the auspicious month of Thai is underway, Surya is worshiped. Sheaves of sugarcane dot the prayer area. Freshly cooked food including the typical sweet dish 'Sarkarai pongal' is first offered to Surya. Sugarcane that is offered is symbolic for sweetness and happiness in life. Sugarcane stalks and coconut- both auspicious symbols of plenty- are also offered to the Gods in propitiation of a plentiful harvest in the forthcoming year
Customs & Rituals
This day is very similar to Rakhsa Bandhan and Bhai Dhuj in that it is predominantly a festival where women offer prayers for the wellbeing of their brothers. The women perform this ritual before bathing in the morning. All the women, young and old, of the house, assemble in the courtyard. The rice is placed in the centre of the leaf, while the women ask that the house and family of their brothers should prosper. Arati is performed for the brothers with turmeric water, limestone and rice, and this water is sprinkled on the kolam in front of the house.
On this day, people travel to see other family members and the younger members of the family pay homage to the elders, and the elders thank them by giving token money. Another thing many do is leave food out on banana leaves for birds to take. Many South Indian people take the first bit of rice cooked in any given day and set it outside for the crows to take, so this is not necessarily a habit only for Pongal. Some also go to temple to worship and thank god for all good things that are bestowed on them.
Thursday, 15 January 2009
The third day of Pongal is dedicated to cattle and is called Mattu Pongal. People offer prayers to the bulls, cows and other farm animals. Cows and bulls have always held a special place in
On this day, Lord Ganesh and Goddess Parvati are worshiped and Pongal is offered to them in the 'puja'. According to a legend, once Shiva asked his bull, Basava, to go to the earth and ask the mortals to have an oil massage and bath every day and to eat once a month. Inadvertently, Basava announced that everyone should eat daily and have an oil bath once a month. This mistake enraged Shiva who then cursed Basava, banishing him to live on the earth forever. He would have to plough the fields and help people produce more food. Thus the association of this day with cattle.
The cattle are washed, their horns are painted and covered with shining metal caps. Multi-colored beads, tinkling bells, sheaves of corn and flower garlands are tied around their necks. They are fed with Pongal and taken to the village centres. Devotees pay their respect to cows by bending down, like praying in temple, and touching their feet and foreheads, followed by an aarthi (showing fire to the object of praise) and offering the cattle prasadam (food offering, in this case, Pongal).
Jallikattu- A Bull Festival
Wednesday, 14 January 2009
Women wake early on this day to create elaborate kolam on the grounds in front of their doorway or home. Kolam is created with colored rice flour placed on the ground carefully by using one's hand. The women take several hours to finish the kolum. On this day the new rice is collected and cooked in pots until they over flow. It is this overflowing which means Pongal. This overflowing of rice is a joyous occasion, and the children and adults as well will shout out 'Pongal-o-Pongal!'
Surya Pongal Puja Process
The Sun God is offered boiled milk and jaggery. A plank is placed on the ground, a large image of the Sun God is sketched on it and Kolam designs are drawn around it. In the centre of the plank is drawn a large figure of the Sun God with his effulgent rays. The "Puja" of the Sun God starts after the auspicious moment of the birth of the new month Thai. Prayers are rendered to the Sun God to seek his benedictions.
The Sun God is given pride of place during Pongal. In the villages, people gather in the courtyard and prepare the Pongal in the open. The pot in which the Pongal is cooked is decorated with flowers, sugarcane pieces, turmeric plant etc. The first offering is made to the Sun.
Surya Pongal Delicacies
The rice is cooked and prepared as a dish called ponggal which is rice with dhal and sugar. This Pongal variety is called ven ponggal, ven meaning white. Another variety is also prepared with dhal and jaggery (sweet), called chakra ponggal, chakrai meaning sweet. To accompany the venpongal, people eat brinjal (eggplant) sambar (stew), vadai, idll iand spicy accompaniments.
Sweets, puddings, cooked rice or sarkarai ponggal are prepared on this day. On all the three days of Bhogi, Pongal and Maattu Pongal, women adorn the entrance of their houses with colorful kolams. Large patterns, decorated with colorful flowers and powders are drawn, crowding the entire street.
All the houses from the richest to the humblest are thoroughly scrubbed and whitewashed. Homes are cleaned and decorated with "Kolam" - floor designs drawn in the white paste of newly harvested rice with outlines of red mud. Often pumpkin flowers are set into cow-dung balls and placed among the patterns. Fresh harvest of rice, turmeric and sugarcane is brought in from the field as preparation for the following day.
A special puja is performed on the first day of Pongal before the cutting of paddy. Farmers worship the sun and the earth by anointing their ploughs and sickles with sandalwood paste. It is with these consecrated tools that the newly-harvested rice is cut.
Another ritual observed on this day is Bhogi Mantalu, when useless household articles are thrown into a fire made of wood and cow-dung cakes. Girls dance around the bonfire, singing songs in praise of the gods, the spring and the harvest. The significance of the bonfire, in which is burnt the agricultural wastes and firewood is to keep warm during the last lap of winter.
In Andhra Pradesh this day is celebrated by girls burning their old clothes and wearing the new ones after an oil massage and bath. Then follows Pongal Panai, a ritual in which new earthenware pots are painted and decorated with turmeric, flowers and mango leaves.