Sunday 24th of September 2023

Pongal History – The Harvest Festival

Read Pongal Festival History in Tamil Read Pongal Wishes in Tamil

What is the Pongal Festival?

Clay Pot Rice to the Sun God
Sugarcane to the Cows and Oxen
Sweets to the Family and Friends
Thanks to the Almighty
for all the blessings and yield…!!!

Pongal is the first festival that is celebrated after the New Year. It is a four days long harvest festival. The four days of the Pongal festival are called Bhogi (the last day of Margazhi), The Pongal (people worship the Sun God for the yield), Mattu Pongal (giving thanks to the cattle that helped the farmers to raise their crops) and Kaanum Pongal (often acknowledged as Thiruvalluvar Day and also as a day where women pray the Sun God for the well being of their brothers). The festival is usually observed in the start of the Tamil Month Thai that is mid-January. The Harvest Festival is celebrated as a tribute to the Sun God, thanking for the yield. The festival is celebrated under many regional names throughout India.

Pongal 2023

Pongal / Makara Sankranti – the traditional Indian harvest festival is a four-day long festival and is celebrated during mid-January marking from January 15, 2023 to January 18, 2023.

Who celebrates Pongal?

Festivals are generally celebrations that represent our culture, heritage or religious significance. Pongal is basically celebrated by the people belonging to Hindu religion. Pongal is celebrated in many regions across India and is celebrated as a thanksgiving festival where people thank the Sun God for all the blessings and yield. Apart from India, Pongal serves as a major festival in countries like Sri Lanka, Singapore, Malaysia, Mauritius, etc.,

History of Pongal

The history of Pongal goes a long way back. Some people say Pongal is mentioned in the Sanskrit Puranas of Dravidian Era, while some historians mention that the Pongal festival is celebrated in the name of “Indra Vizha” in the Sangam Age. Indra Vizha came into existence when rice and lentils became the major yielding crops. Farmers celebrated Indra Vizha as a Thanksgiving Carnival to thank Lord Indra, the Sun God and Nature for their blessings and yield. Later, Indra Vizha and the Harvest Festival are celebrated together as “Pongal”. Some mentions about the Pongal Festival are as follows:

  • The Pongal Festival is mentioned in an engraving in Viraraghava Temple located in Thiruvallur, Chennai
  • In Thiruvembavai, the Pongal festival is mentioned clearly by the poet Manikkavachakar
  • Andal’s Tiruppavai also has mentions about the festival

pongal paanai

Stories behind the Pongal Festival

There said many stories regarding how the harvest festival Pongal came into existence and why is it celebrated and a few of them are given below:

Lord Shiva and Basava

Once Lord Shiva sent his bull Basava down to the earth and ordered him to ask people on earth to eat once a month and have an oil massage bath every day. But, unintentionally Basava informed them to eat every day and have an oil massage bath once a month. Raged with anger, Lord Shiva expelled Basava from Kaylaya and banished him to live on earth forever and hence he happened to help people on earth to produce more food. Farmers started celebrating Pongal to show their gratitude towards Basava who helped in producing more food and hence people celebrate cattle during the festival as a means of thanksgiving.

Lord Krishna and Lord Indra

This story revolves around how Lord Krishan shattered the vanity of Lord Indra after becoming the king of all deities. Krishna stopped all cattle herds from worshipping Indra. Later, the furious Lord Indra sent his clouds to cause thunderstorms and floods. Lord Krishna lifting Mount Govardhan providing shelter to all beings thereby proving Lord Indra his divinity. Lord Indra who hurt his pride, realized his mistake and apologized to Lord Krishna.

States and Countries which celebrate Pongal

Pongal is widely celebrated in the Southern States of India including TamilNadu, Kerala, Karnataka, Andhra Pradesh, Telangana and Puducherry. Apart from India, Pongal serves as a major festival in countries like Sri Lanka, Singapore, Malaysia, Mauritius, etc.,

  • Tamil Nadu and Kerala

Pongal is one of the most important festivals celebrated in Tamil Nadu. In Tamil Nadu and Kerala Pongal is celebrated as a four day long festival.

Day 1 – Bhogi

Bhogi marks the last day of the tamil month Marghazhi and is celebrated to welcome the new start of the harvest month “Thai”. The concept of celebrating Bhogi is “Leaving your past behind and giving place to a new start”.

Day 2 – Suryan Pongal

Suryan Pongal marks the first day of “Thai”. This is celebrated to the Sun God for all the blessings and yield. People prepare sweet rice in clay pots and serve it to the God Sun as a part of their thanksgiving.

Day 3 – Mattu Pongal

 People celebrate their bulls and cows which helped for their yield by bathing them and painting their horns.

Day 4 – Kaanum Pongal

Kaanum Pongal is often acknowledged as Thiruvalluvar Day and also as a day where women pray to the Sun God for the well being of their brothers.

  • Andhra Pradesh and Telangana

In Andhra Pradesh and Telangana, the harvest festival is called as Pedda Panduga. Just like Tamil Nadu, Pedda Panduga is also celebrated for four days in Andhra Pradesh and Telangana.

  • Karnataka and Maharashtra

Pongal is celebrated in the name of Makara Sankranthi in Karnataka and Maharastra. People celebrate the festival by decorating their cattle and feeding them sweet rice pongal. A special dish made of sesame and sugar is also made.

makar sankranti image

Why do we celebrate Pongal?

Pongal – the harvest festival is usually considered as a “thanksgiving” festival. Farmers celebrate Pongal to thank the Sun God and Lord Indra for better yielding. They also decorate their cattle which helped in producing crops and thank them. 

How is Pongal celebrated?

The Pongal celebration usually begins with the preparation of the special dish “Pongal” made by boiling the harvested rice along with milk and jaggery.  People then serve it to the God Sun as a means of thanksgiving. Various traditional games including Jallikattu, Silambam, Uri adithal, etc., are also played during the festival.

Traditional Games of Pongal

The evenings of Pongal are always filled with laughter as playing games become an integral part of these celebrations.  Some of the traditional games played during the festival include:

  • Jallikattu
  • Vazhukku Maram (Slippery Pole)
  • Uri adithal
  • Manju Viratu
  • Silambam
  • Kabadi
  • Elavatta Kal

Folk Dance forms such as Puli Vesham, Karagam, Oliyattam, etc., are also performed during the festival.

jallikattu pongal

Pongal Festival Food Items

Pongal – the traditional harvest festival has its own set of traditional food recipes.

  • Sakkarai Pongal
    This dish is made by boiling the harvested rice and moong dal along with milk and jaggery.
  • Ven Pongal
    This is a popular south Indian dish made with rice and moong dal and garnished with ghee, balck pepper, ginger, curry leaves and cumin.
  • Medu Vada
    This recipe is made with a combination of dals and is usually served with sambhar and coconut chutney. Medu Vada can be eaten as an evening snack during the festival of Pongal.
  • Poli

Poli is traditional Indian flat bread stuffed with sweetened lentils.

  • Rice Kheer / Payasam

It is a dessert made with rice, milk and sugar and can be served hot or chilled.

  • Sesame Laddo

Sesame Laddo is made as balls using roasted sesame and jaggery.

pongal festival

Pongal Wishes in English

Happy Pongal Wishes
“Rejoice in the charm of tradition and celebrations. Wishing you all a Happy Pongal”

“May the festival of Pongal fill your life with sweetness! May God bless you and your family with peace, prosperity, and happiness in your life. Wish you a Happy Pongal”

“May happiness shower in your life this year, good fortune enters your home and success touches your feet. Wishing you and your family a very happy Pongal”

“Pongal festival marks joy and brings along positivity. May this festival of harvest season be one that brings along with it all that’s best and everything you deserve. Wish you and your family a memorable Pongal”

“We have all come into the world with a bright destiny. Let’s celebrate the day as the brightest days of our lives. May you all have a Happy Pongal!”

“On this beautiful day, I wish that you may be able to receive the gift of God perennially and get every little thing that you have wished for in life. Wishing you all a prosperous and a very Happy Pongal”

“I wish that this Pongal fills your life with love, happiness, prosperity, health and spirituality. Wishing you all a very Happy Pongal”

“Celebrate this day with a heart filled with cheer and fervor. Sending my warmest greetings to you and your family this Pongal”

“May this harvest festival fill your life with joy and prosperity. Happy Pongal to you and your family”

“May the sweetness of overflowing milk and sugarcane fill your life with happiness and prosperity. Wishing you a very happy Pongal”

“A new beginning is one of the eternal mysteries of life. Wishing you all a very Happy Pongal”

“May the auspicious fire bring you joy and happiness and burn all your moments of sadness. Wishing you all a very Happy Pongal”

“May the sweetness of jaggery, milk, and these dry fruits bring the sweetest wishes to you and your family. Happy Pongal everyone !”

“In this festive season may every color of love fill your home and heart with lots of happiness. Happy Pongal to all !”

“On this auspicious day of the year do not forget to celebrate the gifts of life. Show your gratitude to the almighty for every blessing you have in your life. Happy Pongal to you and your family”

“May this harvest festival diminish all your worries and fears from your life and fill your heart with calm and healthy thoughts. Happy Pongal to all !”

“Let us meet, greet and eat together with this auspicious decoration and beautiful kolams. Wish you all a very Happy and Prosperous Pongal”

“May this auspicious day bring in good luck to your home and may success touch your feet. Happy Pongal !”

happy pongal wishes image

Pongal o Pongal!!!

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