Chennai: For weeks now, the Chennai Corporation had been responding to queries on the rehabilitation of the state. Although life was moving at a slow pace with umpteen attempts to bounce back to a normal life, the people of Tamil Nadu, on Friday, celebrated Pongal with much fervor.
Although, the festival is celebrated to thank the sun, rain, and farm animals, it also includes the exchange of gifts, greetings and chakara pongal.
Eatables like ghee-fried cashews, and almonds, wafted with cardamom through the traditional dish of rice, jaggery and Bengal gram are cooked. The ingredients are then boiled in milk and the day is started by chanting to the sounds of ‘Pongolo Pongal, Pongolo Pongal’.
A mud pot or a stainless steel vessel, in which the dish is prepared is cooled. Meanwhile the neck of the pot is tied with ginger, turmeric, a piece of sugarcane and banana.
The Pongal dish is offered to the Sun god as a token of thanks. The ‘prasad’ is then distributed amongst family and friends, and enjoyed thus. It is cooked at an auspicious time and in some households, conchs are blown prior to the formal offering.
The festival is spread over a period of four days. The first day is known as Bhogi. On this very day, people are seen burning their old clothes, mats and other items. New paints are applied to the walls and people make-over their houses.
The second day, however, is when the main festival is celebrated; it falls on the first day of the Tamil month Thai.
It is also seen that the women feed the birds with colored rice and pray to them as a gesture of respect and for the well-being of their brothers.
The third day is known Mattu Pongal. On this day, bulls and cows are bathed. Their horns are painted and worshipped as these animals play a divine role in farms and farming.
The fourth day is known as Kannum Pongal – the day to go out and meet relatives and friends. However according to reports, in localities like Alanganallur in Madurai district, famous for Jallikattu or the sport of bull vaulting, the Pongal celebrations were on low key as the sport was banned by the apex court.