Pongal or Makar Sankranti is one of the most important and popular four-days-long harvest festival celebrated in Tamil Nadu and southern states of India.

A rich and abundant harvest of paddy and other crops depend mainly on sunlight and rain and the Pongal is the “thanks giving” to the Sun God and the God of Rain.

Pongal will be celebrated on January 14, 2013. Pongal date may vary by up to one day in various parts of India depending on the local custom dictates, the use of the old or new Hindu solar calendar or astronomical tables.

Literally the Pongal means “boiling over" and the name of the festival is derived from ‘Pongal’ a rice pudding made from freshly harvested rice, milk and jaggery boiled together.

Pongal is the day when the sun begins its northward journey. To Hindus, the sun stands for knowledge, spiritual light and wisdom. Makara Shankranti signifies that we should turn away from the darkness of delusion in which we live, and begin to joyously let the light within us shine brighter and brighter. We should gradually begin to grow in purity, wisdom, and knowledge, even as the sun does from this day.

Four Days Festival

Pongal is the biggest harvest festival of South India spread over four days and each day have specialty.

This first day is celebrated on the last day of the month of Margazhi as Bhogi festival in honor of Lord Indra, the God of thunder and rain who bless with rains. Homage is paid to Lord Indra for the abundance of harvest, and bringing prosperity to home and the land.

The second day is Surya Pongal also called Perum Pongal. It is the most important day and people worship Surya deva the Sun God and his consorts, Chaya and Samgnya. On this day the puja or act of ceremonial worship is performed when rice is boiled in milk outdoors in an earthenware pot and will be offered symbolically to the Sun God along with other oblations.

The third day is known as Mattu Pongal and celebrated to glorify cattle that help farmers to get good harvest. They are decorated with Multi-colored beads, flower garlands and bells tied around the neck and they are worshiped and fed with “Pongal”.

The fourth day the festival is celebrated by a family get together and all of the house assemble in the courtyard or on the riverbanks and have a sumptuous meal (kootan choru). It is also time for some traditional dances such as kummi and kolattam.

Pongal is celebrated as Makar Sankranti (Sankaranthi) in Kerala, Maharashtra, Gujarat, Uttar Pradesh,and in Karnataka it is celebrated by making Ellu (preparation of a dish with sesame seeds, coconuts, sugar blocks, etc) and exchange of sugar cane pieces and Ellu with neighbors, friends and relatives.

In Andhra Pradesh the day is called Bhogi (Lord Indra also called Bhogi) . On Bhogi day, in the early morning, a bonfire is lit up with waste before the traditional special bath. Pongali (rice pudding with milk) is the important item during this day. Pongal is an ancient festival of the Tamils and it is not known when exactly the Tamils began celebrating the festival, but some historians believed to have been celebrated during the Sangam Age, i.e., 200 B.C. to 300 A.D.
Pongal Gifts
Pongal is one of the major gifts giving festival in South India. The exchange of gifts enhances the joys of the festival and helps to develop stronger bonds of love and affection between friends, relatives and neighbors. The people pay a visit to their near and dear ones and exchange different kinds of sweets or dry fruits as Pongal gift to Children. In villages, it is customary for farm laborers to get ‘Pongal Padi' or ‘Pongal Parisu’ (Pongal Gifts) from their masters.

Lord Sun Sculpture in metal is one of the popular corporate gifts in addition to various woodcarvings and the lenth of the list is increasing year by year.

Though there is a tradition to visit dear ones and personally greet them with Pongal Gift but for dear ones staying in different cities and countries people send Pongal gift by means of courier or online
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