Bhogi Pandigai is widely celebrated across Tamil Nadu on the day preceding Thai Pongal. That is, the last day of the Tamil month of ‘Markazhi’ is observed and celebrated as Bhogi Pandigai. Furthermore, Bhogi Pandigai marks the beginning of the celebrations of Pongal, which is one of the most important traditional festivals of Tamil people.
The theme of Bhogi Pandigai is to throw away and burn old and unwanted stuff to bring spiritual bhogam (prosperity) into our houses and hearts.
The history behind the word Bhogi has too many accounts. The widely reckoned etymology to the word Bhogi is that the word Bhogam entails receiving pleasure from divinity and the day offering that divine pleasure is named after Bhogi. Another legend accounts that Bhogi Pandigai is celebrated in the name of Lord Indra (god of rain and thunderstorms).
The celebrations of Bhogi Pandigai usually start early in the morning where homes are usually cleaned and washed. Subsequently, women and girls decorate their houses with beautiful kolam (rangoli) drawn out of rice flour and kaavi (red-oxide). People take head baths on this day as a part of the Bhogi festival celebrations.
The next step is performing pujas and offering ‘Bholi’ (battercake with lentil or coconut filling prepared with jaggery) to the almighty as naivedhyam (food offered to god as a part of the ritual). Later people assemble to light up a large outdoor fire to burn old and unwanted stuff.
Bhogi Pandigai is also wonderfully celebrated in Andhra Pradesh on the same day as Bhogi and as Lohri in Punjab and Magh Bihu/Bhogali Bihu in Assam.
A very delicious and rich meal is prepared and served on plantain leaf on this day which includes Pachadi, Parupu, Kootu, Poriyal, Varuval, Apalam, Vadai, Payasam, Bholi, Rice, Sambar, Rasam, Thayir and so on.
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