An important harvest festival in Tamil Nadu, the Pongal is celebrated in mid-January and lasts for four days. It is a festival of thanksgiving to the Sun, Earth and cattle. The celebrations continue through the first four days of the Tamil month of Thai (mid-January to mid-February).
During the festival, the people clean their houses and gardens. All the old and useless items are put on a bonfire. The courtyard is decorated with kolams. The cattle are decorated with beads, bells and flowers, and then worshipped. The devotees offer sugarcane, turmeric, sheaves of paddy, newly prepared jaggery, vegetables and pulses to the Sun God.
The important rituals that take place are the Bhogi Pongal, the
Surya Pongal, the
Mattu Pongal and the Kannum Pongal. Other major attractions of the festival are bull and bird fights.
Pongal Festival is held throughout India on the same day. In each region, the festival has different names – Lohri in northern India, Bhogali Bihu in Assam, Sankranti in Uttar Pradesh and Bihar and Bhogi in Andhra Pradesh.