Pongal is a Hindu four-day ‘thanksgiving’ festival traditionally dedicated to the Sun God Surya to thank the deity for a bountiful harvest. It is usually celebrated between Jan 14 and Jan 17 every year.
Normally celebrated by the Tamils worldwide, the word Pongal literally means “boiling over” and refers to the ritual of boiling freshly harvested rice and milk until it spills out of the pot. The boiling over is believed to bring good luck and prosperity to the household.
The moment the rice boils over and bubbles out of the pot, Hindus will shout “Ponggalo Pongal”.
The saying “Thai Pirandhal Vazhi Pirakkum” (தைபிறந்தால்வழிபிறக்கும்) meaning “the commencement of Thai paves the way for new opportunities” is often quoted regarding the Pongal festival.
In the run-up to Pongal, houses are also cleaned, painted and decorated and Kolam designs (ground patterns made out of rice flour) are drawn in the front yards of the houses.
In the temples, the rice dish is also prepared while devotees chant prayers. Food items such as vegetables, sugar cane and spices are first offered to the gods and later consumed by devotees to cleanse themselves of past sins.