One of my favourite festivals is Pongal. This falls just after the english New Year, in the month of January. Mostly it comes on 14th of January. Right from childhood, this festival have fascinated me because, of a few things.

1. You get holidays for 4 days;
2. You can draw colourful kolams in front of the house;
3. You can eat lots of Karumbu
4. Keep Kanu the next day in grandma's house ( now I go to my mom's place)
5. It is festive time

Even now it is holiday for 4 days for the kids, but as for adults, it is work but it gives lots of happiness and great satisfaction to do the work. Just the week end before Pongal, clean the entire house, gather all those things to be thrown off, and get the house ready for the festival.

Pongal is considered to be the festival of harvest, to thank the Sun God. This festival is celebrated with great pomp and vigour in all the villages of Tamil Nadu.

It is the beginning of the new month Thai and the Uthrayana Punya Kaalam. It is said that for the Devas, one year is a day and they sleep all through Dakshinayanam and they are awake in the Uthrayanam. Uthrayanam also signifies Sun's journey towards north. If you see, when we have Christmas in winter, Australians have Christmas in summer and when we have summer they have winter. So the ancient calculations of Uthrayanam and Dakshinayanam is proved here.

The four day celebrations are as such"
Maatu Pongal (Kanu)
Kaanum Pongal

On Bhogi, people light a fire in front of their house and light fire to all those unwanted things in their house. The significance is that to burn the bad thoughts and bad deeds and bring in all good deeds into our life.

On Pongal the entrance of the house is cleaned and Kolams(Rangoli) are drawn. Most of the Kolams will be a pot with sugar cane and turmeric plants in the side to significance Pongal. Every one in the house take bath and they all gather around in the kitchen and wait for the jaggery, milk, rice and moong dal mixture to boil and when it flows out, they all shout Pongalo Pongal. The pot in which the chakkarai pongal is made is decorated with turmeric and ginger plants. The pot is also adorned with Suryan and Chandran kolams. The head of the house performs the Puja. There are different traditions for each family. Some take the Pongal to open terrace and do the puja for the sun god. Some put Ratha like kolam in the puja room and put surya and chandra inside it and do the puja for that kolam. The god is offered Chakkarai Pongal.

The next day is mattu pongal. That is worshipping those bulls and oxen and cows that have helped in ploughing the field and pulling the cart. The horns of the bulls are painted in different colours and they are offerred freshly prepared chakkarai pongal and green grass. In the morning, the women of the house, even small girls keep kanu pidi. This is similar to Rakhi of North India. The turmeric from the turmeric plant that is tied around the pot is saved and it is given to all the elders and they rub it on the forehead and cheeks and bless them to live a long life. Here they pray fo the betterment of all those brothers and sisters of theirs. The previous day's chakkarai Pongal is saved for this and a little of white rice too, to make coloured rice using turmeric and kumkum. And a little curd rice is also mixed. Sugar cane is cut into small pieces and divided in odd numbers for all the women folk and so is the banana. Early in the morning even before sunrise, the women folk, put kolam in open terrace or in open place. The eldest of the woman folk start keeping chakkarai pongal in small balls in odd numbers. And the rest follows. Every one of them say " Kaakka pidi, kanu pidi, kaakkaikellam kalyanam, kuruvikkellam kondattam, kooda piranthava ellam santhoshama soukiyama irukkanum". Meaning, crows are getting married and this gives joy to the sparrows, let all those who are born iwth us live a happy long life. On this day, different varities of Kalantha Saadam is made. In the evening we can see the bulls drawing carts loaded with kids. They all go around shouting Pongalo Pongal, Maattu Pongal, Thai Pongal.

On the fourth day, people go to visit the elders or go out to different places of entertainment. It is a day of merriment. Every year, the trade fair is opened on this day in the Island Grounds in Chennai.