Friday, 15 January 2010

today is the first day of the Pongal Festival.....

 Pongal is a four-days-long harvest festival celebrated in Tamil Nadu, a southern state of India and on Sunday we have tickets to go and see the Pongal Festival here in Singapore... ... In the meantime here is a little about it:

Due to the large number of Tamils residing in the various countries of South East Asia, Pongal is extremely popular festival in these places. Indonesia has about 2,000 to 10,000 Tamils, where as Singapore has about 200,000 Tamils who constitute the third main cultural group. Malaysia has a 1,060,000 Tamil population and Myanmar (Burma) had a Tamil population of 200,000 at one time, but since the end of the Second World War the number has been reduced. Cambodia has 1,000 Tamils, China 5,000 and Thailand 10,000.

 Pongal is a four-days-long harvest festival celebrated in Tamil Nadu, a southern state of India. For as long as people have been planting and gathering food, there has been some form of harvest festival. Pongal, one of the most important popular Hindu festivals of the year. This four-day festival of thanksgiving to nature takes its name from the Tamil word meaning "to boil" and is held in the month of Thai (January-February) during the season when rice and other cereals, sugar-cane, and turmeric (an essential ingredient in Tamil cooking) are harvested.

Mid-January is an important time in the Tamil calendar. The harvest festival, Pongal, falls typically on the 14th or the 15th of January and is the quintessential 'Tamil Festival'. Pongal is a harvest festival, a traditional occasion for giving thanks to nature, for celebrating the life cycles that give us grain. Tamilians say 'Thai pirandhaal vazhi pirakkum', and believe that knotty family problems will be solved with the advent of the Tamil month Thai that begins on Pongal day. This is traditionally the month of weddings. This is not a surprise in a largely agricultural community - the riches gained from a good harvest form the economic basis for expensive family occasions like weddings.



The FIRST DAY of the festival:

Bogi festival or Bhogi is the first day of Pongal and is celebrated in honor of Lord Indra, "the God of Clouds and Rains". Lord Indra is worshiped for the abundance of harvest, thereby bringing plenty and prosperity to the land. Thus, this day is also known as Indran. On Bhogi all people clean out their homes from top to bottom, and collect all unwanted goods. This day is meant for domestic activities and of being together with the family members.

All the houses from the richest to the humblest are thoroughly scrubbed and whitewashed. Homes are cleaned and decorated with "Kolam" - floor designs drawn in the white paste of newly harvested rice with outlines of red mud. Often pumpkin flowers are set into cow-dung balls and placed among the patterns. Fresh harvest of rice, turmeric and sugarcane is brought in from the field as preparation for the following day.

Puja
A special puja is performed on the first day of Pongal before the cutting of paddy. Farmers worship the sun and the earth by anointing their ploughs and sickles with sandalwood paste. It is with these consecrated tools that the newly-harvested rice is cut.

The Bonfire
Another ritual observed on this day is Bhogi Mantalu, when useless household articles are thrown into a fire made of wood and cow-dung cakes. Girls dance around the bonfire, singing songs in praise of the gods, the spring and the harvest. The significance of the bonfire, in which is burnt the agricultural wastes and firewood is to keep warm during the last lap of winter.

In Andhra Pradesh this day is celebrated by girls burning their old clothes and wearing the new ones after an oil massage and bath. Then follows Pongal Panai, a ritual in which new earthenware pots are painted and decorated with turmeric, flowers and mango leaves.
Day two is here.

Day three is here.


2 comments:

cajunsis said...

Sounds very interesting! I have never heard of it. Thanks for sharing that information. I am amazed at all the festivals...

Leone said...

There is always a festival to celebrate something..... probably because Singapore is so diverse with many cultures. Hard to keep tabs on them all though ....

Will take the camera on Sunday and hopefully capture some special moments.