Pongal is one of the most awaited harvest festivals of South India. The festival signifies a period of plenty, peace and happiness. It lasts for a period of three days, with each day having a special meaning and reason behind it. Almost every festival in India has some stories and legends associated with it and Pongal is no exception to this. The festival also has some interesting stories and legends related to it, two of which have been mentioned below.
Legend of Mount Govardhan
The first legend is associated with the first day of the festival i.e. Bhogi Ponga. It is related to Lord Indra, the God of Clouds and Rains, and Lord Krishna. The honor given by people to Lord Indra made him proud and arrogant. He started considering himself as the most powerful of all beings. When Lord Krishna came to know about this, he thought of teaching Indra a lesson. He convinced his cowherd friends to worship Mt. Govardhan rather than Lord Indra. This angered Lord Indra and he sent the clouds to generate non-stop thunder, lightning, heavy rains and flood the land where Krishna lived.
Lord Krishna had other plans in mind and he lifted up the Govardhan Mountain on his little finger, to protect village people and their cattle. The rains continued for three days. At last, Indra realized his mistake and divine power of the young boy. He promised humility and begged Krishna's forgiveness. Since then, Krishna allowed Bhogi (first day of Pongal) celebrations in honor of Indra. Since then, the festival of Pongal came into being. In other words, this day gave the starting point to the Pongal celebration and the festival got another name of Indran, from this legendary story
Legend of Lord Shiva
Another legend is associated with Mattu Pongal (the third day of Pongal). It involves Lord Shiva and his mount, Nandi the bull. It is said that once Shiva ordered Nandi to go to the Earth and deliver his message to the people that they should take oil bath every day and eat food once a month. However, the dozing Nandi could not hear the message right and told the people to eat everyday and take oil bath once a month. Shiva was furious, as due to Nandi's mistake, there will be lack of grains on earth. Now, Nandi would have to remain on earth to help humans plough the fields. Since then, 'Mattu Pongal' came to be dedicated to cattle and other domestic animals.