Skip to content

Pongal Festival: Celebrating Tradition, Unity And Abundance

    Mobile poster
    Happy Pongal Festival

    In India’s diverse culture and traditions, the harvest festivals are celebrated as expressions of gratitude deeply rooted in mythological tales. These celebrations, as varied as the regions they inhabit, go beyond seasonal markers to offer a glimpse into the rich store of local stories and myths.

    Take Bihu, for instance, marking the Assamese New Year. This festival is lively, filled with dance, music, and feasts that symbolise the joy of a fruitful harvest. With its bonfires and traditional songs, Lohri finds resonance in the northern regions, particularly in Punjab, where communities gather to celebrate the waning of winter and the lengthening of days.

    Makar Sankranti, observed across India, signifies the Sun’s transition into Capricorn. Families come together during this time to enjoy sesame sweets and express gratitude for the abundance of crops. Despite the diversity in practices, these festivals share a common thread of expressing gratitude to the Earth and nature, fostering a collective spirit of appreciation.

    Start a Campaign

    Within the changing seasons and the agricultural cycles, farmers are, and always have been, an important pillar responsible for the nation’s prosperity. Their hard work and dedication find expression in these festivals, where the earthy aroma of freshly harvested crops is paired with the sounds of joyous celebrations. As communities unite to offer thanks, the connection between the people, their sustenance from the land, and the acknowledgement of nature’s abundance becomes clear.

    The celebration of harvest festivals goes beyond mere reaping crops; it is also a spiritual communion with the forces that sustain life. Whether through the rhythmic beats of the dhol during Lohri or the colourful kites soaring high during Makar Sankranti, these festivities echo the harmonious relationship between humanity and the environment.

    The harvest festivals encapsulate more than just seasonal transitions; they embody the spirit of unity, gratitude, and resilience that defines the Indian agricultural narrative. As the nation collectively pauses to express thanks, these festivals become a cherished tradition, nurturing a profound sense of belonging and interconnectedness with the land that sustains them.

    Pongal, a harvest festival celebrated predominantly in Tamil Nadu, extends over four days to pay homage to the Sun God, a pivotal figure in the agricultural cycle. This article will discuss how it is celebrated within the state and across India. We should also understand its importance to the people of Tamilnadu.

    The Pongal festival, celebrated over three main days, is a joyous occasion, with each day holding special significance for the people of Tamil Nadu. 

    1. Bhogi Pongal:

    Bhogi Pongal marks the beginning of the festivities. It’s a day dedicated to cleaning and getting rid of old things. People gather and discard unused items, symbolising the discarding of the old to make way for the new. Bonfires are lit, and there is a sense of renewal in the air as households prepare for the days of celebration ahead.

    2. Surya Pongal:

    Surya Pongal, the second day, is the primary day of Pongal. On this day, the traditional dish called “Pongal” is cooked. This delicacy is made from newly harvested rice boiled with milk and jaggery, symbolising prosperity and abundance. Families come together to cook and share this dish, offering thanks to the Sun God for a bountiful harvest.

    3. Mattu Pongal:

    On the third day, Mattu Pongal is dedicated to expressing gratitude to the animals, particularly cattle, which play a crucial role in agriculture. Cattle are adorned with colourful decorations, and special prayers are offered to them. This day acknowledges the significance of these animals in the farming community and expresses gratitude for their hard work.

    4. Kanum Pongal:

    Some Tamils celebrate a fourth day called Kanum Pongal, which focuses on spending time with family and friends. It is a day for relaxation and enjoyment, often involving outings and recreational activities. Families may share a meal, strengthening the bonds of kinship.

    The Pongal festival is mentioned in Sanskrit Puranas from 200 BC to 300 AD, known as the ‘Sangam age.’ According to these records, Pongal was celebrated as Thai Nirdal.

    Myths and Stories Associated with the Pongal Festival

    Lord Shiva’s Bull:

    In a tale about Lord Shiva’s bull, there was a message for people on Earth. However, a mistake occurred, and instead of advising to eat once a month and bathe daily, the bull unintentionally proclaimed that people should eat every day and bathe once a day. Understanding the error, Lord Shiva decided that the bull should help people increase food production to meet their daily needs.

    Lord Krishna and Lord Indra:

    In another story, Lord Krishna sought to humble Lord Indra, who had grown proud as the ruler of all deities. Lord Krishna strategically directed cow herders to stop worshipping Lord Indra. Lord Indra, angered by this defiance, unleashed thunderstorms to flood a village. To shield the village, Lord Krishna lifted the Govardhan mountain. Eventually, Lord Indra realised his arrogance and apologised to Lord Krishna.


    What is the rangoli for pongal called?

    The rangoli-like designs made on the verandas of people’s homes are made from Kolam. Traditional Pongal Kolam is made from rice flour and milk or water paste. Sometimes, even coconut water.

    Pongal is celebrated in which state?

    Pongal is celebrated mainly in Tamil Nadu. However, the Tamil-speaking population across the globe celebrates the Pongal festival. 

    What is the first day of Pongal known as?

    The first day of Pongal is known as Bhogi Pongal. It marks the beginning of the Pongal festival. 

    What is the sweet rice Pongal recipe made during the festival known as?

    Interestingly, the dish made during Pongal from boiled rice is also called Pongal. The name is enough to clarify that it is a traditional Pongal dish. 

    When is Pongal celebrated?

    Pongal is celebrated during Uttarayan, which is around mid-January every year. 

    Traditional Practices During Pongal: 

    Pongal, a multi-day harvest festival celebrated predominantly in Tamil Nadu, unfolds with rich cultural traditions, each day brimming with unique significance and vibrant festivities.

    As Pongal signifies the commencement of Uttarayan, families collectively try to clean their homes and surroundings, ushering in a sense of purity and renewal. During this four-day celebration, a collective family ritual emerges as everyone bathes early in the morning, adorning themselves in traditional attire. Women elegantly drape sarees or pavadas, while men choose the dignified angavastram. The creation of Pongal Kolam, an intricate and colourful pattern made from a paste of rice flour mixed with water, milk, or coconut water, becomes a cherished artistic tradition that adds a special touch to the entire festivity.

    Bhogi Pongal inaugurates the celebrations as people offer heartfelt prayers to the sun god and Mother Earth. The aroma of freshly cooked sweet Pongal, made from the first harvested paddy, permeates the air, symbolising gratitude to the benevolent forces of nature. This day, infused with a sense of tradition, becomes a harmonious blend of respect and excitement for the upcoming harvest season.

    The second day, Perum Pongal or Surya Pongal, holds profound importance in the festival. The Sun and its companions, Chaya and Samganya, are worshipped on this pivotal day. A traditional practice involves lighting a sacred fire and discarding old or worn-out clothes into it, symbolising a transformative renewal. Before bathing, individuals often receive an invigorating oil massage and don new clothing, embracing the theme of renewal and personal care.

    On the third day, Mattu Pongal takes on a unique dimension as it revolves around expressing gratitude to animals, particularly cattle, integral to agriculture. These animals undergo ritualistic bathing and gentle massages and are adorned in vibrant attire, emphasising their vital contribution to the farming communities. The rituals of bathing, massaging, and dressing these animals become heartfelt expressions of appreciation for their hard work and dedication.

    Jallikattu, a traditional event observed during Mattu Pongal, introduces a dynamic element to the festivities. Participants engage in a skilful interaction as a spirited bull is set free among the crowd, and brave individuals attempt to gently touch or embrace its hump, showcasing a display of agility and courage. Beyond the physical aspects, Jallikattu serves as a symbolic celebration of the enduring connection between people and animals, particularly those pivotal to agriculture.

    The final day, Thiruvalluvar or Kanum Pongal unfolds as families extend the spirit of togetherness by visiting relatives and friends. This marks a time for social gatherings, fostering connections and shared joy. Women play a pivotal role during Kanum Pongal as they engage in traditional rituals, performing puja and offering prayers for the health and prosperity of their brothers. This practice is a beautiful expression of familial bonds, with sisters wishing well for their brothers’ future. 

    Outdoor activities, such as picnics and outings, become a common feature of the day, contributing to a profound sense of celebration and unity. Kanum Pongal encapsulates the essence of gratitude, family ties, and communal harmony, marking the culmination of the four-day Pongal festival with warmth and shared blessings.

    In essence, the extended narrative of Pongal showcases not just the harvest season’s celebration but also the profound cultural aspects and the deeply rooted connection between the people, their traditions, and the natural rhythms of life. The festival becomes a vibrant expression of gratitude, unity, and joy, transcending its agricultural roots to become a celebration of life itself.

    How is Pongal celebrated in today’s digital age?

    In the digital age, celebrating and conveying Pongal wishes has seamlessly integrated with various online social media platforms. The vibrant spirit of Pongal can be shared with friends and family through creative and heartfelt messages, images, and videos.

    Crafting personalised messages on platforms like WhatsApp and Facebook allows individuals to share warm wishes with loved ones near and far. Sharing festive images, such as traditional Pongal pots and vibrant Pongal Kolams, adds a visual touch to the greetings. Users can also utilise social media stories to share snippets of their Pongal celebrations, giving friends a virtual glimpse into the joyous festivities. Post Pongal festival quotes on WhatsApp status and X (formerly Twitter), as well as a platform for people to share their art by sharing pictures of their new Pongal Kolam on platforms like Instagram. Many cooking influencers post Pongal recipes. These recipes help people cook a traditional Pongal dish during the festival. 

    Engaging in live video calls through platforms like Zoom or Skype enables people to connect in real time, fostering a sense of togetherness even when physically distant. Hosting virtual Pongal parties, where participants share cooking tips for traditional dishes or engage in online games, can infuse the festive spirit into the digital realm.

    Utilising popular hashtags on platforms like Instagram and Twitter allows individuals to join more extensive conversations and connect with a broader community celebrating Pongal. Encouraging others to share their Pongal moments through user-generated content can create a collective celebration online. A simple message to your friends and loved ones wishing them a happy Pongal can go a long way. 

    In conclusion, the Pongal festival, deeply rooted in India’s diverse cultural fabric, stands as a vibrant celebration of nature’s abundance and the harvest season. Spanning four days, this festive extravaganza pays homage to age-old traditions and weaves a tapestry of unity, gratitude, and communal harmony.

    Each day of Pongal brings forth its unique charm. Bhogi Pongal marks the renewal of homes, while the lively Jallikattu on Mattu Pongal adds an energetic touch to the festivities. The concluding day, Kanum Pongal, resonates with familial warmth and outdoor joy. Together, these celebrations create an immersive experience that reflects the cultural richness of the festival.

    As we revel in the abundance and warmth of Pongal festivities, it becomes imperative to acknowledge the harsh reality that many individuals worldwide still struggle with the problem of hunger. 

    While we celebrate the harvest and the generosity of nature during Pongal, it serves as a reminder that some sleep with empty stomachs every night. In response to this, Ketto, a crowdfunding platform, has introduced its Social Impact Plan, which allows individuals to contribute to dedicated initiatives focused on eradicating hunger. By leveraging the power of collective giving and the internet, Ketto empowers everyone to become a part of the solution.

    Contributing to Ketto’s Social Impact Plan is an opportunity to extend the joy of abundance experienced during Pongal to less fortunate people. It transforms the festival’s essence into a beacon of hope for a brighter, more nourished world, aligning the celebratory spirit with a compassionate cause.

    By joining hands and contributing through Ketto, individuals can make a meaningful impact, playing a role in alleviating hunger. This Pongal season, let us revel in our blessings and extend a helping hand to those in need, embodying the true spirit of giving and fostering a sense of community. Together, we can create positive change and strive towards a world where abundance is a celebration and a shared reality for everyone. Let’s work together to make this Pongal a truly Happy Pongal for each and every one. A small contribution can be a great way to send your Happy Pongal Wishes.

    Need Funds for Medical Treatment?

    Start a Fundraiser on Ketto and raise the amount for your treatment