People across Tamil Nadu on Sunday celebrated the harvest festival of Pongal thanking rain, sun and farm animals. People got up early, put on new clothes and went to temples. The aroma of ghee fried cashews, almonds and cardamom filled homes as a traditional dish of rice, jaggery and Bengal gram was made. As the ingredients of Chakarai Pongal boiled in milk, people called out ‘Pongolo Pongal, Pongolo Pongal’.
The mud pot or stainless steel in which the dish is cooked is decorated by tying up ginger, turmeric, sugarcane piece and banana at the neck. The Pongal dish is offered to Sun God as thanksgiving and eaten as ‘prasad’. It is made at the auspicious time and in some homes, conches are blown prior to the formal offering. People exchanged greetings and Chakarai Pongal with their neighbours.
The Pongal festivities take place over four days, the first-day being Bhogi, which was Saturday when people burn their old clothes, mats, and other items. Homes are painted afresh. The second day is the main Pongal festival celebrated on the first day of the Tamil month Thai.
The third day is the Mattu Pongal when bulls and cows are bathed and their horns painted and worshipped as they play an important role in farms. Women feed the birds with coloured rice and pray for the welfare of their brothers. In some parts of the state, Jallikattu — a bull-taming sport — is held. The fourth day is the Kannum Pongal — the day to go out and meet relatives and friends and go sightseeing.