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The Origin and History of Pongal – The Harvest Festival

In 2022, the Pongal festival falls from Thursday, 13 January till Sunday 16th January. Pongal is not only a festival but an act of giving; an act of humanity. The origin & history of Pongal can be dated back to the times of the Sangam Age i.e. from 200 B.C. to 300 A.D. The Sanskrit Puranas also contain mentions of Pongal. Initially, the Pongal festival was celebrated as a Dravidian Harvest festival during the reign of the Dravidian era of Indian history. The festival was celebrated as Thai Niradal. During the period, unmarried girls prayed for the agricultural prosperity of the country, and for this purpose, they observed penance during the Tamil month of Margazhi. Goddess Katyayani – one of the 9 forms of Goddess Durga was worshipped during this festival. The young girls used to perform fasting and it was believed that the fast would bring abundant wealth, prosperity, and bountiful crop for the year ahead.

Then came the Pallavas who also used to celebrate the festival as ‘'Pavai Nonbu'. Celebrated in the Tamil month of Margazhi, this festivity was initiated by young girls who offered prayers to God for sending rain, thereby paving way for bringing prosperity for people. Throughout the month of this festivity, they did not consume milk or any milk products. They did not oil their hair during this period. All these traditions led to the celebration of the Pongal festivity of today.

Both the festival and the penance were vividly described in Andal's Tiruppavai and Manickavachakar's Tiruvembavai. Chola King Kiluttunga used to present lands to the Veeraraghava temple at Tiruvallur, especially for the celebration of Pongal.

Basically, Pongal dates back to ancient eras and holds major significance in Sanatana Dharma. It has been mentioned in numerous scriptures and history books.

Read Also: 4 days of Pongal Celebration


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