Monday, January 14, 2013

Pongal Festival At Home!


We celebrated Pongal festival at home this morning! This is a very important festival celebrated throughout India in different names in different states.  Pongal in Tamilnadu, Makar Shankraanti in Karnataka, Kerala, Andhra, UP, MP, Goa etc. Uttarayana in Gujarat and Rajastan, Lohri in Punjab.  This is basically, a 'Harvest Festival'  Our country is  mainly a farming country.  So this festival gives importance to the 'Sun god' who helps the farmers for their cultivation. This festival comes in the month of Jan. (around 14/15th and in the Tamil month, 'thai'). The previous day is called 'Bhogi', when we clean the house and destroy all the old and unwanted things.  The next day to Pongal, is Maattu pongal, which is like thanksgiving for the cattle which helped them in farming...Maattu pongal is celebrated in a grand way in villages. Read more about Pongal in the wikipedia link here .

At home, we clean the house for 'Bhogi'.  The sweet for the day is 'pooran poli'.  The next day is Pongal.  We draw beautiful ronglis/kolams in front of our house in the morning (You can see them in the wikipedia link!).  We hang a bunch of mango leaves on the door step to indicate that we have a festival/celebration at home.  We cook Sweet pongal (Raw rice, moong dhal and jaggery combination dish), Ven pongal (same rice and moong dhal with salt, pepper etc.), Yezhu curry koottu (koottu is  a typical Tamilian dish prepared with coconut, dhania, chilli, hing etc. alongwith minimum 7 vegetables like root veg. (Potato, yam, sweet potato), veg. from creepers (avarai kaai - val beans and its seed, pumpkin - red and white),  veg. from plants like beans and raw banana. We make black gram vada also.  Curd rice as usual.

We cook the sweet pongal in a brass vessel which is visible in the photo.  Then tie the vessel with ginger and turmeric plants  and take it outside  to our backyard near the tulsi plant. We draw a small kolam of sun god (one circle surrounded by small small lines!) and place the vessel on it.  Then we do a small pooja and offer the sweet to the Sun god (in our earlier houses we were doing this in our balcony).  Then bring the vessel inside and keep it in front of the gods and do the normal pooja.  We have to decorate the pooja room with sugar cane like you see in the picture. Sugar cane is a a must for this festival. Then...'pet pooja' means eat them!

We do the pooja near the steps in front of the Tulsi plant, placing the vessel facing east!

Turmeric and ginger plant...these are very important for this festival!

The next day to Pongal is Kaanum pongal...i.e. visiting relatives, mainly visiting mother's place or go out and enjoy! In our house my sis in law and other relatives come home. This festival is celebrated by the women/girls of the house for the well being of their brothers.  In the morning we keep coloured rice balls which are made from the left over sweet pongal and curd rice. We add some haldi and kumkum to a portion of the curd rice.  We keep these balls in 3 to 5 lines on turmeric leaves along with beetel leaves, nuts, banana and a sugar cane piece.  We do this mostly on the terrace.  We do a small pooja and offer them to the gods and pray for the well being of our siblings, mainly brothers!  Have a spoon of the previous day's sweet pongal and take head bath after this small ceremony.

For lunch we make different types of mixed rice like pulianjaatham (tamarind rice or lemon rice), coconut rice, ellu saadam (til rice), karuveppilai saadam (curry leaves rice), curd rice etc.  We make the pastes for all these rice before hand and just mix them on that day.  More kuzhambu with White pumpkin to mix with the mixed rice. Vada and paayasam will be there.  Eat and then we mostly play cards.  We used to have many members in our family earlier.  Now the children have grown up and got married and have gone out. Slowly our family is getting smaller and smaller! We, nearly 12 to 15 people, used to sit in a BIG round and play cards till night! Those days are gone! We used to have the sugar-cane eating session after except for a small piece, others go to the servants!

Next year's pongal will be in our new flat...pongal will be offered to the sun god in our new balcony!

Happy Pongal to all!

Edited to add on 16.1.13:

Kaanum Pongal...comes on the next day to Pongal

I have written about Kaanum pongal above.  This is the picture of the small ceremony which we did yesterday morning!

The crows which come home to eat my curd rice (link) never eat this coloured rice with haldi, kumkum etc.!


Bikram said...

Happy Pongal - Lohri-Makar shakranti.. to you and family ..


Ramakrishnan said...

Happy Pongal Sandhya !

Rama Ananth said...

That was a good description of the festival pongal.
These days we hardly cook or eat too much, everything has become limited, we are changing with time.
Slowly people have also stopped celebrating all these festivals.
Can't blame them too.
Wish you and your family a very happy pongal.

Sandhya said...

BIKRAMJIT: Thank you, Bikram! Wish you a happy Lohri!

R.RAMAKRISHNAN: Thank you, Ramakrishnan Sir! Wish you the same!

RAMA: Yes, we are not able to eat much nowadays because of not exerting ourselves in any way! My son doesn't like mochche paruppu and any type of rice items. But I insist on him to eat just on festival days and thank god, he is heeding to it. Otherwise rice is just on Sundays!

Thank you and all of us wish you the same, Rama!

BK Chowla, said...

Happy Pongal.
My best wishes for SANKRANTI

KParthasarathi said...

You have left no detail and it is exhaustive with pictures to embellish.
Happy Pongal

Swaram said...

Loved reading about how u celebrate the festival Sandhya :) Happy Sankranti to all of u :)

Anonymous said...

What a lovely description of the Pongal festival! Loved reading this post!

Happy Pongal, Sanghya! :)

Anonymous said...

Sorry for mis-spelling your name, Sandhya!

Destination Infinity said...

When compared to this, in our family we do not celebrate this festival at all! Except for making chakkara pongal and normal pongal nothing much is actually done. We only watch TV programs! I thought this festival is more applicable to villages as they do harvesting of crops. But your explanation hints that even people in city can celebrate it, for different reasons. I was not aware of this earlier.

Destination Infinity

Anu said...

Happy Boghi/ Pongal/Mattu Pongal / Kaanum Pongal Sandhya! I cant forget the way we used to put Rangoli on all these four days, draw sugarcane at the corners and write in tamil "iniya thai thirunaal vazhthukkal".

Sandhya said...

BKCHOWLA: Thank you, Chowlaji!

K.PARTHASARATHY: Thank you, Partha Sir!

SWARAM: Thank you, Swaram!

MANJU JOGLEKAR: Thank you, Manju! Happy Shankranti to you and your family!

DESTINATION INFINITY: We are Kannada people settled down in Chennai for many decades now (my mother's side). My mother used to make Sakkarai pongal and I remember drawing huge rangolis in front of my house...I was the one who was interested in it. Clean the front yard, spray cow dung mixed with water first which gives a green background for the ground, then draw kolams. I used to keep a pumpkin flower on a cow dung ball in the middle of the kolam. It used to look beautiful. The yellow flower with green many years back! I don't do it now! Touching cow dung is ancient and dirty now!

After marriage I knew that the pooja is so elaborate. My sis in law taught me. I am going to continue this as long as possible.

In villages, people buy new clothes for Pongal. My husband is an Electrical Contractor. His site workers take leave, go to their villages for Pongal and never come back for nearly 10 to 15 days! Work stagnates everywhere.

Yes, all of us have become easy-going people now. I am also joining it slowly, diluting the old customs! The next generation will eat bread or order pizza on a Pongal day!

Avada Kedavra said...

Happy Pongal! I am missing it so much this year since I am not in India :(

Sandhya said...

ANU: Welcome to my space, Anu! I think you had already come here earlier! When I read your details, I felt like reading about myself...our music/film taste is similar! Nice to know you! Check my profile...!

I was also writing words like you mentioned in the kolams! Now, I draw just padikkolam with red kaavi surrounding it in front of my other kolams! I think I have forgotten the old 15-21 dot kolams now...feel like I was doing it in my previous janam!

Renu said...

Happy Pongal Sandhya ! and I am so happy to see the details, I was wishing that somebody would write the traditional details.

Rahul Bhatia said...

Happy Pongal Sandhya! That post was mouth watering:)

Sandhya said...

AVADA KEDAVRA: We do not know how much we enjoy these festivities when we are involved in it! We miss it more when we are away from the from home!

RENU: Thank you, Renu! Happy Shankranthi to you and your family!

I have added one more photo of what we did the next day!

ashok said...

Happy Pongal Sandhya!

Swaram said...

Nice to see the new pic Sandhya :)

Ugich Konitari said...

Such a a wonderful informative post! Maybe I will come visit you around Pongal one day !

Happy Pongal !

Bhagyashree said...

Quite a detailed post for those who dont know abt Pongal and lovely pics too. Glad to know that u had a good time Sandhyakka and here's wishing that u celebrate Pongal like this every year even thought you will be living in a flar

Sandhya said...

RAHUL BHATIA: Thank you, Rahulji! Happy Lohri to you and your familly!

ASHOK; Thank you, Ashok! Happy pongal to you and your family too!

SWARAM: Thank you, Swaram! You are a sweet girl!

UGICH KONITARI: Thank you and happy Sankrati to you and your family, Suranga!

Please do! I will be very happy if you come here to our place!

BHAGYASHREE: Thank you, Bhagya! Happy Shankranti to you and your family!

I had lived in a flat earlier and celebrated Pongal there too! We did the pooja in the balcony there! Most of my relatives have stopped doing this so sincerely i.e. keeping the vessel outside and doing the pooja. I might prefer that when age catches up!

radha said...

I am sure you will follow all these customs even in your flat. And since you are moving to OMR maybe you can check out this particular blog OMR Resident -

Sandhya said...

RADHA: Thank you, Radha! We are moving out of OMR!

I couldn't open the link you sent. Will try again later! Thank you!

R. Ramesh said...

pongalo pongal...maatu pongal...remembering those days in our temple street..past is always so beautiful..

Deeps said...

Thoroughly enjoyed reading about pongal and kaanum-pongal, Sandhya. As always enlightening :)

May God bless you and your family always :)

Sandhya said...

R.RAMESH: Past is always beautiful Ramesh because we tend to remember only the good things of the past life, which is a good nature.

Hope your family has settled down over there! Take care.

JEEVAN: Thank you, Deeps! I am always happy to read your comments which has always got a personal touch!

SG said...

Pongal Vaazhthukkal.

Shail said...

Interesting. Mallus don't celebrate this day. But it is important at Sabarimala, that's all.

Sandhya said...

SG: Sorry for acknowledging your wishes very very late! Thank you, SG!

SHAIL: This is mainly a Farmer's festival. You must be knowing the details. Here, at our homes also, we offer pongal outside the house, First to Sun and then bring it inside in front of the gods and offer to them! Sun god's festival!

Wonder why Mallus don't celebrate. Even in my mother's place they do normal pooja and make ven pongal which is called huggi over there and puli vella churney, garnished with green chillies. Not much. Villagers buy clothes, white wash their houses etc. A very important festival for them, I was told.

Everything is interesting, for me! Our normal routine is changed and we tend to do different things to EAT!

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