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.
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.
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.’
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.