Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Pongal - The harvest festival begins!

The 4 day harvest festival begins in my state. It is one of the grandest festivals here. The tradition began centuries ago when agriculture was the only major occupation of the entire state. The best thing is that, although today cities have nothing to do with agriculture, the tradition is still very alive.

Today is bogi and it is the day that we thank the rain god for helping in the harvest.

Tomorrow is the main festival pongal where we thank the Sun god. It also marks the beginning of the 'spring season'. The tradition is to cook 'pongal' (rice with pulses) in mud pot outside the house at the time of the sun rise.

The next day would be 'mattu pongal' is dedicated to the cows and bulls for helping in ploughing the field, etc. The thing I hate about this day is that in the southern districts of our state, they have these bull fights. These bulls are hurt badly and most of the times some human lives are also lost. The animal welfare organisations have been trying to get a ban from the court. Since it is an old tradition and involves human sentiments, the court is refusing to ban this. However, bull fights are now regularised. They have to get prior court permission and the entire event has to be monitored by the animal welfare members to make sure that animal isn't totured in any way.

The fourth day is kannum pongal. There are two types of celebrations. For a section of people, it is more of a picnic day. For others, it is the day when women offer prayers to God for the wellbeing of her brothers. My tradition falls in the second catergory.

The festival is celebrated under different names and for different reasons in other states of India.

1 comment:

  1. Wow, the whole idea of the bull fighting amazes and scares me. But I can see how tradition is very much honored in your country!

    I like that Pongal reflects gratitude for agriculture. Canada has a steep history of farming -- and it was very difficult for first settlers to groom the lands. Of course, there is much controversy because our native people were displaced, stolen from and diminished. And it is the native people who have many rituals to show gratitude for the land and animals. Anyway, I've gotten off topic but I wanted to say that I enjoy when you write about the holidays around you!