Pongal is a harvest festival celebrated with religious fervor across Tamil Nadu, a southern state of India. Thai Pongal, as it is popularly called, is synonymous to Makar Sankranti, the harvest festival celebrated in various regions of India, on 14th of January, every year. Pongal is typically celebrated from 13th of January to 16th of January, every year. The merrymaking starts with Bhogi, the first day of Thai Pongal. Observed as thanksgiving occasion to Lord Indra (the God of Heaven), Bhogi is the day when people burn the old and unwanted materials, like clothing and furbishes. The next day is observed as Surya Pongal, the day dedicated to honor Sun God.
The third day of Pongal is known as Mattu Pongal, wherein people worship farm animals. The fourth day is observed as Kaanum Pongal, which is also known by the name of Karinaal or Thiruvalluvar Day in few places. Sarkarai Pongal is offered to Sun God, as it is one of the important rituals of the fourth day of the festival. Often referred to as 'Tamil Thirunal' (the festival of Tamils), Pongal removes the barrier of caste and religion. People, irrespective of their community, celebrate the festival with gusto. Pongal boasts of a vibrant history, which dates back to many centuries. Go through the following lines to get information on the history and origin of Pongal.
History & Origin Of Pongal Festival
The origin of Pongal can be traced back to Sangam Age, a period extending from 200 BC to 300 AD. The festival was celebrated as Thai Niradal. During the period, unmarried girls prayed for agricultural prosperity of the country and for the purpose, they observed penance during the Tamil month of Margazhi, corresponding (December-January). All through the month, they abstained themselves from the consumption of milk and milk products. They didn't oil their hair throughout the month. The use of harsh words was strictly refrained by them. Ceremonial bath in the early morning was part of the ritual of the penance.
The unmarried women worshipped Goddess Katyayani, one of the nine forms of Ma Durga. They carved image of the deity out of sand. The women broke their fast on the first day of the month of Thai (January-February). It was believed that the fast would bring abundant wealth, prosperity and bountiful crop for the year ahead. Tamil literature has mentioned the celebration of the festival of Thai Niradal and the observance of the penance, known as Pavai Nonbu. Both the festival and the penance were vividly described in Andal's Tiruppavai and Manickavachakar's Tiruvembavai. Chola King Kiluttunga used to present lands to the Veeraraghava temple at Tiruvallur, especially for the celebration of Pongal.