PongalPongal is the harvest festival celebrated in the Southern parts of India of Tamil Nadu and Andhra Pradesh. This festival is equivalent to the Makar Sankranti celebrated in North India and is celebrated for three days. Bhogi Pongal, Surya Pongal, and Mattu Pongal are the three days of Pongal festivities on successive days. In certain parts cattle races still enliven the village festivities. Pongal is a colorful and traditional festival with many ceremonies devoted to various deities.

Sun God is worshiped on this festival as the Sun helps in the growth of the paddy and other plantations. The houses are cleaned, and all maintenance jobs are done before this festival. During the three-day festival, different varieties of Rangoli are drawn in front of the houses early in the morning.

Pongal CelebrationsBhogi: The celebrations start on the last day of Margazhi, which is known as "Bhogi". On this day, people get up very early in the morning to take a head bath. They place all the trash in front of the house inflame it and dispose of old and useless things from the house and replace them with new ones. Then colorful Rangoli are drawn in front of the houses.

Pongal: Reaping of paddy is done. Using the new rice, the recipe "pongal" is made and offered to God. The sun God moves in a chariot driven by seven horses. A picture of the chariot is drawn in an open space when the sun arrives. A small sun is drawn at the center of the chariot. People place turmeric sprigs and sugarcane and puja is done onto the chariot. Then the dishes are offered to God. Once the puja is over, everyone in the house takes a small amount of Pongal and sprinkles it all over the house, saying "Pongalo Pongal". This is done as a prayer to God to bless their houses.
pongal2.jpgMaatu Pongal: The next day is Maattu Pongal - Pongal for the cows. Cows are worshiped on this day. Milk suppliers decorate the cows. They paint the horns, apply colors, and tie clothes on the cows. Then they take the cows to all the houses.

Kaanum Pongal: People go out to places and enjoy this day. In Madurai, Tiruchirapalli and Tanjore a kind of bullfight called the Jellikuttu is held. Bundles containing money are tied to the horns of the ferocious bulls, and unarmed men try to wrest the bundles from them. With ingredients provided by freshly gathered harvest, community meals are held at many a place.

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