India is a land of festival and harvest is the reason why Pongal is widely celebrated in Tamil Nadu. The celebration of prosperity of harvest and crops in the villages across southern part of India lasts for four days. The festival days is marked with variety of food, wishes, and prayers for a good harvest the upcoming year. Pongal in 2016 will be celebrated beginning this January 14.
The Pongal days in Tamil Nadu puts the harvesting season to an end. Bogi Festival, Surya Pongal, Mattu Pongal, and Kaanum Pongal are the four days of the agricultural festival in South India. First three days, there are traditional dishes prepared at home and family reunions.
The last of Pongal is thanksgiving to elders and God. The farmers and their families seek blessings from the Sun God and mother Earth. They wish each other on the first day morning of Pongal. They call in their fellow workers in the field who help them in paddy cultivation. The festival is welcomed in the south Indian villages for the break in schedule that it brings.
Though the celebration lasts four days in the year, people start planning much before. On Bhogi festival, they thank Lord Indra. The special Pongal dish is the specialty of the second day celebrations. On Mattu Pongal the farmers worship the animals mainly cattles who plough the land to increase fertility. The high-yield crops are a result of good plough on the land. Reunions and visiting relatives is a custom for the last day of Pongal in India. It is to pay respect to elders for the inheritance of land.
During the approaching festival, homes are cleaned polished with dung. Farmers get new clothes for their families. There are Pongal songs and dances performed during those four days. This year too, there would be many folk troupes performing Pongal celebrations. Just like "Rangoli" in North India, Pongal kolams is done at the entrance on the festival morning. In the kitchen area, too kolam is seen where the special dishes are prepared as a sign of purity. It is a great time to visit the state of Tamil Nadu to have a look at the Pongal kolams, home decors, and prayers in the temples. Women put on their traditional clothes with fresh garlands on the head.
Other aspects of the grand celebrations across the state include greeting each other, distributing sweets, and visiting relatives. Spreading love is an important feature of this South Indian festival.