The four day harvest festival of Pongal will begin next week.

Thai Pongal is a four-day Hindu holiday celebrated in Tamil Nadu which happens in the month of Thai (January-February). The festivities run January 14-17. Pongal is a harvest festival which comes around when crops like sugarcane, rice, and turmeric are harvested. The holiday falls around the same time as Lohri which is in mid-January.

Pongal means “to boil” and is also the name of a culinary dish made with sweetened rice and lentils. Each day of Pongal is observed differently.

Day 1: The Bhogi Festival

Today’s celebration is in honor of Lord Indra who is the lord of rain clouds. The Bhogi Mantalu ritual is also observed on this day. It involves throwing of unneeded home items into a bonfire made out of wood and cow dung cakes.

Day 2: Thai Pongal

On this day, rice and milk are boiled together in earth pots tied with the turmeric plant. The meal is cooked outside to give an offering to the sun god. The offering is accompanied with sugarcane sticks, bananas, and coconuts.

A special aspect of the day is that someone has to wake up early, take a bath, and hand draw a traditional design at the entrance of every door using lime powder. It is called Kolam.

Day 3: Mattu Pongal

Mattu Pongal is celebrated in honor of cows. They are worshipped and decorated with sheaves of corn, garlands, and bells.

Day 4: Kaanum Pongal

Also known as Kanu Pongal, this day is the final day of the Thai Pongal festivities. Women of the household take the leftover sweet Pongal and other foods and place them on washed turmeric leaf. This ritual asks the prosperity of their brothers.

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