Pongal is an important celebration for the Indians, especially those of South Indian origin.
Pongal is a five-day thanksgiving celebration similar to a harvest festival. The Indian community celebrates Pongal to express gratitude to the sun and their cattle/buffaloes for providing good rice yields. The community will also buy new clothes, clean up and paint their houses, and so on to celebrate the occasion.
Here are some important points about the celebration:
✨Kholam, which is usually placed nearby the front door, is one of the must-have decorations for Pongal. The celebration also honours insects as part of the ecosystem, where ‘kholam’ itself becomes food for insects. The Kholam intends to feed all living things on earth.
✨Besides Kholam, the entrance of the house is also decorated with sugarcanes, turmeric leaves, and ‘thoranam’ made using young coconut tree fronds. Sugarcanes signify sweetness, turmeric leaves signify well-being of the family, and ‘thoranam’ represents good luck. If you see a door with sugarcanes on both sides, it is a sign that the occupants are celebrating Pongal.
✨Pongal is the name of a sweet rice dish cooked during the celebration. The rice is cooked with milk, cardamom, brown sugar, cashews, raisins, and ghee. During this festival, Pongal will be offered to the sun and fed to the cows which had worked in the fields, followed by family members, relatives, and acquaintances.
✨Other than the rice, the second meaning of Pongal is "spill" which signifies abundance. When cooking Pongal rice, the most important step is pouring the milk into the clay pot first. Only after the milk boils and overflows out of the pot, rice is added to the pot. Interestingly, all family members will shout "ponggalo ponggal" when the milk is boiled and spilled. It signifies an 'overflow of joy, glory, and prosperity.'
✨Pongal is celebrated over five days, starting with :
The day before Pongal, a celebration named Bhogi will commence in the early morning before the actual celebration. Bhogi is the practice of burning old shabby things and replacing them with new ones. It is also symbolic at the beginning of the month in the Hindu calendar, called 'Thai maasam' (maasam means moon), by removing all the negative thoughts within us and welcoming the noble with a pure heart and mind.
The second day of the celebration is dedicated to the Sun (Sun Thanksgiving).
The third day is a celebration for pets, namely cows and buffaloes. Breeders and farmers will usually color the cows' horns, don the cows with colored cloths and flower garlands, and feed them. A small ceremony is also held as a sign of gratitude to the animals who have provided humans with food (milk) and helped in agricultural work such as plowing. This is why cows are important for the Indian community. The cow is considered sacred because it helped in the lives of the poor in the old days where all sources of income depended on agriculture. According to the author, Indians take care of cows like their own children; some of them even name their cows. If their cow dies, everyone is sad, just like one would when losing their own family members.
On the fourth day, the celebration is for young women. Back in the days of yore, villagers used the day to show off their young, unmarried daughters.
On the fifth day, the community celebrate "Manjal Neer Aattam", where turmeric water will be poured on everyone as a fun game.
Next year can invite admin to your Pongal celebration?
This is an English translation from a text shared by @Veera Saravanan of Malaysiaku Dulu Dulu Official Facebook Page.
For the original post in Bahasa Malaysia, visit the following link: https://www.facebook.com/groups/malaysiakuduludulu/permalink/733116507348624/
Photo credit: Free Malaysia Today.