Pongal is one of the most popular festivals of Tamil Nadu. Celebrated in January, the festival is also considered as the beginning of new year. The celebration of Pongal takes place with great pomp and show. Important for farmers, Pongal in Tamil Nadu is actually a thanks-giving occasion. The festival marks the harvesting of crops, a respect to God and the farming resources available on earth.
Celebrated for four days, Pongal is all about cleaning, prayers, decoration and merriment of life. Merriment on Pongal festival in Tamil Nadu is a way of paying regards to animals, God and everyone else who is helpful in activities of farming. Closely related to the life of farmers, this is a special occasion for every one associated with agricultural activities. Pongal, the harvest festival encompasses different aspects of life of farmers.
The whole celebration has the four sections that are named as Bhogi Pongal, Thai Pongal, Maattu Pongal and Kaanum Pongal. The four days of this festival have different rituals. Bhogi Pongal, the first day of celebration involves cleaning process. On this day, people remove all the useless things from their homes. Second day of the festival is named as Thai Pongal. On this auspicious day, people offer their prayers to God Sun. In a new clay pot, people cook a special dish with different ingredients like milk, rice and jaggery.
Mattu Pongal is the third day of this celebration series. Mattu Pongal is the day when people show their gratitude to animals for helping them in farming. They feed their animals with the special feast that is prepared with sugar cane and rice. On this day, people wash off their animals, adorn them with the decorative material and set them free after feeding them the special dish of the day. Last day of Pongal is called Kaanum Pongal. After offering their gratitude to God and animals on Kaanum Pongal, people also visit their friends and relatives. They exchange sweets on Kaanum Pongal. Decoration of home with the rice powder and colours keeps people occupied in the morning.