Pongal

Thai Pongal is a Tamil Hindu harvest festival. Thai Pongal is a four day festival which according to the Gregorian calendar is normally celebrated from January 13 to January 16, but sometimes it is celebrated from January 14 to January 17. This corresponds to the last day of the Tamil month Maargazhi to the third day of the Tamil month Thai.

Thai Pongal is one of the most important festivals celebrated by Tamil people in the Indian state of Tamil Nadu, the Indian Union Territory of Puducherry,Sri Lanka,as well as Tamils worldwide, including those in Malaysia,Mauritius, South Africa, USA, Singapore,Canada and UK.Thai Pongal corresponds to Makara Sankranthi, the winter harvest festival celebrated throughout India.

The day marks the start of the sun’s six-month-long journey northwards (the Uttarayanam). This also corresponds to the Indic solstice when the sun purportedly enters the 10th house of the Indian zodiac Makara or Capricorn. Thai Pongal is mainly celebrated to convey appreciation to the Sun God for providing the energy for agriculture. Part of the celebration is the boiling of the first rice of the season consecrated to the Sun – the Surya Maangalyam.

The origins of the Thai Pongal festival may date to more than 1000 years ago.Epigraphic evidence suggests the celebration of the Puthiyeedu during the Medieval Chola empire days. Puthiyeedu is believed to represent the first harvest of the year.Tamil people refer to Pongal as “Tamizhar Thirunaal,” the festival of Tamizhs.Thai Pongal, also referred to as Makara Sankranti, is referred to in the classic work of Hindu astrology, the Surya Siddhanta.

Thai refers to the name of the tenth month in the Tamil calendar, Thai (தை). Pongal usually means festivity or celebration; more specifically Pongal is translated as “boiling over” or “overflow.” Pongal is also the name of a sweetened dish of rice boiled with lentils that is ritually consumed on this day. Symbolically, pongal signifies the gradual heating of the earth as the Sun travels northward toward the equinox.