Harvest festivals are celebrated around the globe in different names and ways ever since the humankind had turned agrarian from being pastoral. Pongal is the Annual festival of harvest for the Tamils living all over the world.
Unlike other festivals Pongal is celebrated by the people of the south Indian state of Tamil Nadu, irrespective of their religious backgrounds. It is a festival of thanksgiving also to the animals like cattle that play vital part in the process of farming traditionally. The fervor of agrarian life that forms the backbone entire humanity is beautifully manifested in this festival.
Traditionally sowing of seeds for main agricultural crops take place in the Tamil month of Aadi. This month normally falls during the period of August as per the Gregorian calendar. Though there would be three crops a year called Pattams in the places with good irrigational facilities the month Aadi is generally is the month of sowing.
And Pongal marks the culmination of the process of cultivation after tireless labor being put in by the farmers. Rice is consumed by most of the people as staple and harvest of paddy and sugar cane would be predominant.
The produce of their hard labor will be poised for harvest for the consumption and barter for other products at the time of the Tamil month of Thai. In fact this month of Thai used to mark the beginning of the year too for the Tamils in ancient times.
Pongal celebration is not restricted to a single day but it is a season consisting of festivities for an entire week. Homes would be washed and white washed and kept very clean. Traditionally on the first day of Pongal family members would gather in front of their homes around the new mud pot placed on mud oven boiling the freshly harvested rice.
Pongal is the tasty recipe that symbolizes the prosperity. And the term translates as the surge of the teeming of boiling rice from the pot. A variety of the recipes of pongal are cooked in different flavors and tastes and sweet is the predominant one during the occasion.
The pot in which pongal is prepared would be decorated with pieces of turmeric etc. The wonderful natural antiseptic of turmeric occupies an important place in the cuisine and the lives of people here. People would wait till the rice gets fully cooked and surge of the same overflows foaming beautifully. At that time the people around would shout â€œPongalo Pongalâ€ expressing their happiness on full harvest and prosperity.
The second day called Maattu Pongal is dedicated to the animals like cows bulls bullocks that help the farmers in many ways. The cattle would be bathed and their horns painted in beautiful shades and adorned with ropes and beads and bells. It would be a treat to watch the freshness of the cattle. This day marks the gratitude of humans to the animals and nature.
The third day is called Kaanum Pongal and families would visit their relatives and friends and exchange gifts. Families would relish non vegetarian diet on one of the days of the season called Kari Naal. As part of honoring the farming community government observes the day as Uzhavar Thirunaal ( Farmers Day).
The world famous Jallikattu forms part of the Pongal celebrations and would extend well in to months after the day of Pongal. Unlike the well known Spanish bull fight in Jallikattu the bulls are not in any way harmed instead only the tamers of the bulls would sustain injuries.
Let us hope and pray that the threatening spread of Omicron variant does not affect this year`s Pongal festivities as it did last year..
And on this occasion of Pongal while we celebrate nature and thank all its components we wish you all a Happy Pongal!