Friday, January 14, 2011

Pongal Celebration in Tamil Nadu, Day One

Today marks the first of three days of Tamil Nadu's festival called Pongal. A harvest festival taking place when the sun transitions from Dhanur rasi (Sagittarius) to Makara rasi (Capricorn), it also reflects man's transition to a more settled agrarian way of life.

On the first day known as Bhogi, households are cleaned from top to bottom, with unwanted/old items being thrown away. A bonfire may be lit, fueled by wood and cowpies, into which the useless household goods may be placed. Along with burning any agricultural waste, it also helps keep the family warm during the last remnants of winter. Girls would sing songs around the bonfire, singing praises to the gods and giving thanks for the harvest. Others may simply burn a newspaper in keeping with the burning tradition, while some restrain from any burning, as it significantly contributes to air pollution.

On the day of Bhogi, farmers anoint their  ploughs with sandalwood paste. Sugarcane, rice, and tumeric is brought in from the field in preparation for the next day.

Kolams are a part of Pongal as well, with women traditionally using the white paste of newly harvested rice, along with outlines of red mud.  Pots and sugarcane stalks are common themes I've seen for Pongal kolams.

No comments: