Pongal is a harvest festival in India on or close to January 15th. It is celebrated in many different ways throughout the country. This festival dates back at least 1,000 year
Some regionally names are Makar Sankranti, Kanumu, Lohri, Bihu, Bhogi, Thai Pongal, Poki festival, and Hadaga Festival.
Thai Pongal is celebrated by Tamils (originating in Southern India and Sri Lanka). Pongal means “boiling over or spill over.” Letting milk boil over is considered prosperous. Pongal is a harvest festival thanking the sun god, Surya, for a good crop year.
Pongal, the dish, includes rice, lentils, cardamom, jaggery, and cashew (a type of whole cane sugar), and nuts.It is cooked in a clay pot called kollam that has be decorated with coloful patterns. It is cooked in sun and dedicated to the sun god. It is served thoughout the festival.
Thai Pongal is celebrated for four days.
- On the first day of Pongal, worn out cloths and household items are burned in a huge bonfire and offerings are made to the rain god.
- On the second day, rice is boiled in milk in new pots outdoors until it boils over. This is a momentous event that is greatly celebrated. The rice is topped with sugar cane, nuts, and raisins. It is offered to the sun god and later eaten by the event participants along with other sweets.
- The third day is dedicated to the cattle. Cows are decorated with paint, beads, bells, and flowers. They are feed sweet rice and led through town.
- The last day of Pongal people visit family and friends.
Makra Sankrant, also known as Makar Sankranti, is celebrated in Andhra Pradesh, Bihar, Goa, Jharkhand, Karnataka, Madhya Pradesh, Maharashtra, Manipur, Orissa, Sikkim, Uttar Pradesh, Uttarakhand and West and Bengal.
It celebrates of the coming of longer days. Special sweets and cakes are made and they all contain sesame seeds and brown sugar, making this festival particular popular with children.
Small silk bags containing sesame seeds mixed with brown sugar are offered to friends with this greeting “Eat this sweet sesame and speak sweetly to me”, with the intention that there will be no quarreling throughout the year.
In Gujarat, kites are flown by everyone.
In Punjab, this festival is called as Lohri. Families gather around a bonfire and feast and dance. Sugarcane, rice, and sweets are tossed into the fire for the Sun God.
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