All you need to know about Pongal and Sankranti

All you need to know about Pongal and Sankranti
Pongal, also famously known as Thai Pongal is a traditional festival celebrated in Tamil Nadu on the first day of the Tamil month of ‘Thai’. In its spirit and style, Pongal reflects the ancient heritage of Tamil Culture. Pongal is a farmer’s festival. It reflects the ideals, aspirations and practices of the farming community. Pongal brings together, people, families, businesses, social institutions, artistic traditions and religion presenting a harmonious blend of celebrations that symbolize joy, abundance and prosperity.

Why do we celebrate Pongal?
There are two dimensions to Pongal. In the first place, it is meant to rejoice the bounteous harvest preceding the Pongal celebrations. The homes are filled with agricultural products. Farmers would have paid off their debts and would have a good amount of cash in hand. Hence, this is the day to celebrate prosperity and abundance. Also, Pongal is a kind of thanksgiving. People celebrate Pongal to thank all those aspects that helped their agricultural and farming activities. On the first day, they thank sun god, on the second day, they thank cattle and on the third day they thank the elders and laborers.

What is Kaanum Pongal?
Kaanum Pongal literally translates as ‘Seeing’ Pongal. Kaanum Pongal is the third day of Pongal celebrations dedicated to paying visit to relatives and friends. On this day, people exchange gifts. They reward the laborers who helped them with their agricultural and business activities. Those residing in cities and the modern nuclear families visit their parents and elders staying in the villages. People go to temples, picnic places and other places of interest on this day. On the day of Kaanum Pongal, tourist spots are heavily crowded in the state of Tamil Nadu as majority of families go on a sightseeing and jolly trip on this day.

Is Pongal a religious festival?
Religious elements are certainly an integral part of Pongal celebrations. Worship of sun god is the principal activity on the first day of Pongal. People pay visit to their family deities on this day. They also install the idols and images of their favorite deities on this day and worship them. However, more important than this are the cultural and social dimensions of Pongal celebrations. Think of Pongal and what comes to mind are the cultural and social elements of the celebrations that significantly dominate the religious elements. Social events, sightseeing trips, cultural performances, traditional sports and games, and adventure contests like Jallikattu are some notable social and cultural elements of Pongal.

Is Pongal and Sankranti, the same?
Pongal marks the birth of the month of Thai. Around this time, the chilling climate ends and soothing sunny days are born. Sankranti marks the beginning of the northward movement of the sun which is said to bring a change of season and warmer days. Looking from this perspective, we can say Pongal and Sankranti are centered on the same concept though celebrated in different ways.

What is Pongal made of?
Pongal is the special dish prepared on the day of Pongal to offer to the gods. In fact, the name of the event is derived from this dish called ‘Pongal’. The term Pongal literally means the fuming bubbles that come out of the pot when Pongal is cooked. Pongal is a rice based dish. The main ingredients of Pongal are rice, pulses, milk, jaggery, cashew nuts, raisins, some herbs and cardamom.

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