Thai Pongal is a thanksgiving festival at the end harvest season celebrated by the tamilians in the state of Tamil nadu . Pongal is traditionally dedicated to the Sun God Surya, and marks the beginning of the northward journey of the Sun from its southernmost-limit, It coincides with the festival Makara Sankranthi celebrated throughout India as the winter harvest, and is usually held from January 13–15 The saying “Thai Pirandhal Vazhi Pirakkum” meaning “the commencement of Thai paves the way for new opportunities” is often quoted regarding the Pongal festiva]Tamils thank the Sun god (Surya} for the good harvest and consecrate the first grain to him on this ‘Surya Mangalyam’. Tamilians decorate their homes with banana and mango leaves and embellish the floor with decorative patterns drawn using rice flour , commonly known as rangoli.
The day preceding Pongal is called Bhogi when people discard old things and focus on new belongings.. The people assemble at dawn to light a bonfire to discard old used possessions. The house is cleaned, painted and decorated to give a festive look. In villages, the horns of oxen and buffaloes are painted in colors and most of them would have their harvest ready or even would have made money out of the harvests.
Pongal itself falls on the first day of the Tamil month of Thai (January 14 or 15). It is celebrated by boiling rice with fresh milk and jaggery in new clay pots. The rice is later topped with sugar, ghee, cashew nuts and raisins. This tradition gives Pongal its name. The rice is traditionally cooked at sun rise as the dish is dedicated to the sun god, surya. There are two versions of pongal, one sweet the other salted. The prepared dish is served on banana leaves. The moment the milk boils over and bubbles out of the vessel, the tradition is to shout of “Pongalo Pongal!”, introduce freshly harvested rice grains in the pot and blow the sanggu. Tamils consider it a good sign to watch the milk boil over as it connotes good luck and prosperity. It is later served to the people present in the house for the ceremony. People prepare savories and sweets such as vadai, murukku, paayasam, visit each other and exchange greetings.
On the day after Pongal, cattle are felicitated. In rural Tamil Nadu, adventurous games such as the Jallikkattu or taming the wild bull are features of the day . Maatu pongal is a festival celebrated together by the villagers to thank the cows for their favour in farming . People bath their cattles and paint their horns with colourful paints.In the evening people offer prayings to Lord Ganesh .
This is a time for family reunions in Tamil Nadu. Brothers pay special tribute to their married sisters by giving gifts. Landlords present gifts of food, clothes and money to their workforce. During Kaanum Pongal, people visit relatives and friends to enjoy the festive season. This day is a day to thank relatives and friends for their support in the harvest. Although it started as a farmers festival, today it has become a national festival for all Tamils irrespective of their origins or even religion. It is as popular in urban areas as is in rural areas.