The harvest festival of Tamil Nadu, Pongal is usually celebrated around 14th January to 17th January. It is also called as Makar Sankranti which is celebrated on one particular day. This festival marks the end of winter and the lengthening of the day, it is celebrated on behalf of this seasonal observance.
Celebrates Makar Sankranti and Pongal
Pongal is celebrated under different names across India with different traditions. In North India it is celebrated as Maghi, it is the day before which the festival Lohri is celebrated. In Goa, Maharashtra, West Bengal, Andhra Pradesh and Telangana, it is celebrated as Paush Sankranti While in Assam it is celebrated as Bihu and Pongal or Thai Pongal in Tamil Nadu.
On this day, visiting holy rivers and taking a dip in rivers like Cauvery, Godavari, Yamuna, Ganga and Krishna is believed to wash away all sins. This festival is considered a time of happiness, peace, joy and prosperity. There are many varieties of sweets made on this day and special ones made with jaggery such as chikkis and til ladoos are distributed as Prasad in hope of peace, togetherness and harmony among the people.
In Tamil Nadu, Pongal is considered to be a time of good fortune where all familial and social harmony is restored. There is a saying “Thai Pirandhal Vazhi Pirakkum” in Tamil which implies that this festival be celebrated for happiness, joy, and new opportunities.
Legends and Beliefs
It was believed that the ones who die on Makar Sankranti would achieve Moksha to the Aatman. It is an important festival for spiritual practices. In Tamil Nadu, the belief behind celebrating Pongal is the legend of Shiva and his Nandi which relates to the harvest of crops for a newer cycle. As per the legend, the Nandi was cursed to stay on earth and help humans plough fields. And producing more yield. It is a very popular festival amongst farmers in different regions as it is related to crop production.
Makar Sankranti also marks the commencement of the summer and Uttarayan which is an auspicious six months. It is dedicated to the Hindu God Surya or Sun; it is all about expressing gratitude to nature and its abundant resources.
Lohri is a festival that is celebrated in Punjab and it falls around the same time of Makar Sankranti. It usually is a day before Sankranti and is celebrated on the 13th January every year.