PONGAL:

       
Pongal is a three-day solemn festival, celebration in south India on Sankranti. Sankranti is a  day when the sun passes from one sign of the Zodiac to another. Pongal or Makar-Sankranti marks the beginning of the sun’s norhtern course. Then, sun passes into Capricorn from Sagittarius. It is an occasion of great rejoicing and merry-making.

        Pongal festival lasts for three days. The first day is Bhogi-pongal, the pongal of joy. On this day people exchange visits, sweets, presents, and takes an active part in all kinds of amusements.

        The second day is Surya-Pongal, or the pongal of the sun. This day is dedicated to the sun. People get up early in the morning cleanse their home and take baths, etc. The married women then boils rice and milk together and when it begins to simmer, they all shout together,  ‘Pongal! Pongal! .  The sweet thus prepared is then offered to Sun and Ganesh. A portion of it is also given to the cows, and then the people take it themselves. Once again people exchange visits. On meeting each other they ask “Has it boiled?”  To which they invariably answer “Yes, it is boiled”. That is why this festival is called pongaal, which means to boil.’

        The third day is Mattu Pongal or the Pongal of the Cows. On this day cows and oxen are painted in various colours, and garlands of leaves and flowers are hung round their necks. On this cow are allowed to graze anywhere they like, without any restraunt. Pongal also marks the change of the season, and is primarily a harvest festival. India is an agricultural country and cows and oxen play a vital role in agriculture. That is why cows and oxen are worshipped and venerated so much. Pongal also symbolizes the sharing of things with others. The new reaped harvest is shared with friends, relatives, beasts and birds. They all partake of the cooked food and sweets.