India is a land of festivals and if there's one thing that Indians know how to do very well, it is to enjoy every single occasion to the fullest. January is the month where a number of harvest festivals are celebrated in various parts of the country and Pongal 2019 or Thai Pongal 2019 is one of the most important festivals in the Tamil calendar. The four-day harvest festival is celebrated in Tamil Nadu and is dedicated to the Sun God. The main purpose of the festival is to convey gratitude and appreciation to the Sun God, for a successful season of harvest. Pongal has been celebrated in the Indian state for over a thousand years, according to some estimates.
Pongal 2019: Date, Time And Significance
The term 'Pongal' in Tamil means 'to boil' and 'Ponga' literally translates to 'overflowing', which indicates abundance or prosperity. Thai Pongal is celebrated not just in Tamil Nadu, but also in the Indian Union Territory of Puducherry, by Tamil diaspora in Sri Lanka as well as that in Malaysia, Mauritius, South Africa, Singapore, UK, US and Canada. Pongal 2019 starts on Tuesday January 15, 2019 and ends on Friday, January 18, 2019. There is a popular folklore associated with the festival. Legend has it that Lord Shiva sent his bull Nandi to go to Earth and ask the mortals to have an oil massage and bathe every day and have a meal once a month. But Nandi instead announced to the mortals that everyone should have an oil bath once a month and eat every day. Lord Shiva got enraged by this error of Nandi and banished him to live on Earth forever. Nandi spent his days on Earth ploughing the fields and helping people grow more food. This is why cattle are very significant for the festival of Pongal.
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The festival is said to mark the beginning of the Sun's six-month long journey northwards. The festival also corresponds with the Sun's movement into the 10th house of the Indian zodiac Makara or Capricorn. As an offering of thanks to the Sun, people boil the first rice of the season, which is then presented as a sacred gift to the Sun God. The four days of the festival are called Bhogi, Thai Pongal, Maatu Pongal and Kaanum Pongal respectively. The Pongal festivities include decorating the house with banana leaves and mango leaves and decorating the floors with patterns made from rice flour. The elders in the family present the youngsters with gifts and rangolis or kolams are made on the doorstep or entrance of the house.
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Happy Pongal 2019: Sakkarai Pongal dish contains rice, mung beans and jaggery
Pongal 2019: Food and Festive Feast
Pongal is a popular breakfast dish that is associated with the festival and it is served in a number of countries, including in some states of the Indian subcontinent. The dish is both a festive food as well as popular breakfast dish in Sri Lanka, Telangana, Andhra Pradesh and Tamil Nadu. The two most popular varieties of Pongal include Venn Pongal and Chakkara or Shakarai Pongal. While the former is a savoury rice dish, the latter is the more popular and more important sweet dish. Chakkarai Pongal is served as prasadam (sacred offerings of food) in temples during Pongal festival. It is made from ingredients including rice, mung beans, coconut and may be sweetened with jaggery or white sugar. There are two more variants of Pongal- Melagu Pongal or Puli Pongal, which may or may not be associated with the festival.
While making Pongal, it is customary to let the ingredients of the pot boil over and overflow. The ritual is said to attract abundance and prosperity in the New Year and is generally carried out in the morning. While the milk boils and bubbles over, it is customary to blow a conch shell and shout 'Pongalo Pongal' to mark the auspicious festival.