Pongal is a South Indian harvest festival which is celebrated in different manners in different places. This same harvest festival also has different names in different regions of India. Bonfires and feasts are the common celebrations people do to these rituals. It is celebrated with much joy and fervour throughout the nation. Pongal is a 4 to 5 days affair in which the first two or three days are spent in worshiping several Gods and the last days are marked by various sports, such as bull fights(Jallikattu festival). In the southern part of India, especially in Tamil Nadu, pongal (milk and rice pudding) is prepared, while in the north people make like til and gur laddoos. Let’s see how this festival is celebrated throughout the country.
Pongal in Tamil Nadu
Tamil Nadu seems to take Pongal as its signature festival. This is one of the most important festivals celebrated there and is a must in all the houses. It celebrates the harvest period of crops. The Sun God is worshipped for sustaining life on Earth through the rays. The name of the festival is derived from Pongal, a rice pudding made from freshly harvested rice with a combination of milk and jaggery. Pongal is observed for four days, the first day being Bhogi Pongal, a day for the family when they discard their old and used possessions by throwing into a bon fire. The second day is dedicated to Sun God, the third day Mattu Pongal is for the worship of animals and the fourth day known as Kaanum Pongal is a day for family reunion. The last is the thanksgiving, where families thank each other for their support.
Pongal in other words is known as MakarSankranti in Maharashtra. Here the festival is marked by the flying of kites. The entire sky is filled with kites as people indulge in kite-flying competitions. They celebrate it for the reason of the end of winter and start of spring.
Pongal in Gujarat
It is known as Makar Sankranti as well in Gujarat. There people consider it to be a festivity for the upcoming spring. They make authentic delicacies and make family gatherings. Kites are the major attraction here. There are places in Gujarat where kite festivals are also arranged which have competitions as well as prizes at the end.
Pongal in Assam
In Assam this celebrated as Bhogali Bihu, which is a harvest festival. Bihu marks the end of harvest season and the start of a festive period. Since it is the end of the harvesting season when the granaries are full, there is a lot of feasting. The festival lasts for a week which includes various forms of revelries.
Pongal in Uttar Pradesh
In Uttar Pradesh more than two million people gather at their respective sacred places for a holy bathing. According to the Hindi mythology, Makar Sankranti is the first of the big bathing days.
In Uttar Pradesh, the day of Pongal is celebrated as Makar Sankranti. Here, taking a ritual bath in the river is considered mandatory on this day. According to a popular belief in the hills of Uttar Pradesh, a person who does not take a bath on this auspicious day will be born as a donkey in his next birth. Apart from this ritual bathing, donating khichri (a cooked mixture of rice and lentils) is also one of the important aspects of the Makar Sankranti celebration in Uttar Pradesh.
Pongal in West Bengal
In West Bengal is Pongal or Makar Sankranti is known as 'Poush Sankranti'. Here also it is celebrated as a festival of harvest. The newly harvested paddy along with the date palm syrup called Khejurer Gur is used in the preparation of a variety of traditional Bengali sweets made with rice flour, coconut, milk. The festival lasts for three days.
Pongal is a not only an Indian phenomenon but people from all over the world also celebrate it. This is known by different names at different places but the motto of the festival lies in the same conclusion. The festival is arranged to celebrate the onset of the harvest season.
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