14th January, every year.
Pongal is celebrated on the fourteenth of January every year according to
the solar calendar. The Hindu temples are decorated and the atmosphere
around the temples become exciting and happening. To mark the bountiful
harvest, rice is cooked in new pots until they boil over. The rituals that
are performed in the temple include the preparation of rice, the chanting of
prayers and the offering of vegetables, sugar cane and spices to the gods.
Devotees then intake the offerings to clear themselves of past sins.
Pongal also marks the end of the traditional farming season and provides
farmers a break from their monotonous routine. It is the starting of a
series of festivals to follow in a calendar year. In fact, four festivals
are celebrated in Tamil Nadu for back-to-back days in that week. 'Bogi' is
celebrated on January 13, 'Pongal' on Jan 14, 'Maattuppongal' on Jan 15, and
'Thiruvalluvar Day' on Jan 16.
On the first day of the festival, that is Bhogi, the old clothes and
materials are thrown away and fired, marking the beginning of a new life. On
the second day, Pongal, is celebrated by boiling fresh milk early in the
morning and allowing it to boil over the vessel, a tradition that literally
translates Pongal. People also prepare savories and sweets, visit each
other's homes, and exchange greetings. The third day is the day of Mattu
Pongal, on which day people offer thanks to the cows and buffaloes, as they
are used to plough the lands. On the last day, Kanum Pongal is celebrated,
when people go out to picnic.
Thus, the festival of Pongal is known as the harvest festival. The cutting
of the harvested crop is strictly done in a particular time of the year and
cannot be done before this time. Originally this festival was celebrated by
farming community but today it is celebrated by all. In the south, all three
days of Pongal are considered important. Cooccurring with Makara Sankranti
and Lohri festivals of the north, it is also called Pongal Sankranti.
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The Jallikattu ( bull fight) is the traditional sport of courage, which is
the favorite of the youth. The aim of the sport is to seize the reward,
which is put in a cloth and tied to the horns of the bulls. Unlike in Spain
the matador here does not kill the bull. Earlier the winners were chosen as
grooms for village damsels.
With different rites and rituals and multi-colored celebrations, Pongal
brings lots of happiness and joy in the family.