The importance and significance of Pongal – The Harvest Festival
Pongal is said to be one of the major festivals of South India and is more about the act of giving rather than just a ritual. It is celebrated on the day when the sun begins to move northwards and is called ‘Makar Shankranti’ in other places. In Tamil Nadu this festival is called the Pongal or Thai Pongal and the period is referred to as Uttarayanam. It is considered to be very auspicious. This festival is celebrated for a period of four long days.
Pongal usually ushers in the New Year in Tamil Nadu and hence, newly-harvested grains are cooked for the first time on that day. Festivals and traditional rituals mark the celebration in every home and everything seems very different. The poor are fed and clothed. On the next day, the cow is worshipped, and birds and animals are fed. In short you can say that Pongal is all about giving. It is a form of thanksgiving to the entire creation as that is the power that sustains life.”
On this auspicious day the Sun is worshipped as the embodiment and source of Life-Force, without which our existence is not possible. Payasam which is a South Indian traditional dish is offered to the sun seeking his blessings, and then eaten as Prasad. On the second day, animals are venerated, usually through the worship of a representative cow, which again is offered sweet payasam. On the third day sees the family relations worshipped, of course through more offering of payasam, and, more importantly, through the coming together of family members. This day can be a very healing time which restores deep relationships with the Universe, Mother Nature and one another. Through this festival, the Creation is recognized as the miraculous divine blessing and it truly is.
If we come to discuss the medicinal benefits or you can say the scientific benefits then here they are:-
As all of you know that Pongal is about cooking rice and hence the steam rising from the rice, jaggery, cardamom and other spices being boiled in so many households and mixed with the smoke from the firewood traditionally used, actually creates a special medicinal combination that has a very beneficial effect on the atmosphere. This cure all the seasonal diseases as well purifies the soul. It also cultivates a friendly weather and gives us a healthy mother nature for the upcoming days.
So let’s pursue the act of giving and promote a healthy environment and healthy us.
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