Pongal time it is!
All that I knew I was going to do is to eat the sumptuous sweet pongal my mother would make and take a day off from all my work to watch those good blockbuster movies that would be telecasted on my idiot box and enjoy the day. But, little did I know that the festival marked a great importance among the agriculturists back at my native place which was long forgotten, little did I know that there are people out there who would be relishing and thanking our solar deity (sun god) for its blessing.
Curiosity drove me to the extent of calling up my granddad to ask him what exactly pongal was all about, who was an agriculturist back then and now settled in namma Chennai. He was taken back that his granddaughter amongst all the people wanted to know about it when everyone else paid little heed to it. He though confessed that it has been quite a while since he went to his native and that he might have forgotten the actual customs but promised to tell me ^_^ .
Pongal, the harvest festival of South India, popularly known as Uttarayana, Lohri, Makara Sankranthi in North India and Bhogali Bihu in the northeast is a festival celebrated as a thanksgiving festival to the Sun God. The day before the pongal is the Boghi festival where the old objects/clothes are burnt signifying the welcome of the new beginning with new thoughts. On the day of pongal, pongal is made is made in handmade clay pots and the boiling over of the pongal from the pot signifies the beginning of the Pongal festival and is said to bring a lot of prosperity for the people. The next day, Kaanum Pongal is celebrated where we visit our dear ones place, mostly siblings, to seek their blessings and the sister of the family usually gives gift as a token of love to her brother. And not to forget Maatu pongal where the cows and bullocks are bathed and decorate them, a festival to thank their land ploughers and conduct races called Jhallikattu where the machos of the town try to stop the bullock to which wads of currency notes are tied. It sure sounds interesting, but a lot more brutal at the end of the day .
Would it be exaggerating if I were to tell you I had goosebumps after hearing all this from my grandfather? but yes, that is exactly what happened when I thought about how India is so enriched with culture and customs. So amusing it was to realize that our people followed and had belief in such customs and even more delightful to know that people still follow these customs atleast if not for the traditional stirring-the-pongal-in-a-clay-pot 🙂
I was lucky enough to have witnessed all of this at a cultural museum center Dakshinachithra, with the pongal being made in the authentic way, sugarcane tied around it and the ladies echoing the prosperity call “pongal o pongal” when the pongal rises over, followed by a folk dance by our folks. Yes, it sure was entertaining than watching movies on my idiot box 🙂 I have heard its a lot more colourful in our north India, their festival significance marked with a blend of colours by flying kites. It would be such a treat to watch hundreds of enlightening colours make their way into the sky, yes its another heed paid to our Sun deity by reaching up to him.
Given the era we are living in, festivals like these have not been forgotten, though majorly because we get a string of holidays, the actual customs has not become a thing of past.
Happy pongal folks !
P.S wishing you from the bottom of my heart 🙂 Do share your experiences celebrating pongal. 🙂