People of different communities celebrate Pongal
Chennai, Jan 24 (ANI): Communal harmony, peace and brotherhood can be best witnessed during the celebration of different festivals in our incredible land. The scene was no different during Pongal celebrations, when different communities came together to celebrate the winter harvest. Pongal marks the beginning of Uttarayana, the sun’s movement northward for a six-month period, which is considered auspicious. Though the festival is mainly celebrated in South India, it is equally liked by North Indians as well. Pongal is a four-day-long harvest festival celebrated in Tamil Nadu, which falls in the month of Thai (that is, the January-February season) when crops like rice, sugarcane, turmeric etc. are harvested. The first day of Pongal is known as Bhogi Festival which is celebrated in honour of Lord Indra, God of rain. On this day useless items of the household are tossed into a bonfire traditionally made of cow dung cakes and wood. The second day is regarded as “Thai Pongal”. On this day, a special ritual is performed where rice and milk are boiled in an earthen pot – to which a turmeric plant is tied – out in the open as an offering to the sun god. Along with this, sticks of sugarcane, coconuts and bananas are also offered. Another important aspect of this day is the kolam, the traditional design that is hand-drawn at the entrance of houses with lime powder. This auspicious design must be done early in the morning and only after a bath. “Mattu Pongal” is celebrated on the third day in the name of cows. The cattle, adorned with bells, sheaves of corn and garlands are worshipped. Kaanum Pongal” marks the last day of Pongal. On this day, a ritual is performed where the leftover sweet Pongal and other food are set out in the courtyard on a washed turmeric leaf, along with betel leaves, betel nuts and sugar cane. During Pongal, people belonging to different communities sit together and eat together, thus becoming an epitome of communal harmony.