Pongal | Significance and Mythological Importance

Post Date: January 14, 2021

Pongal | Significance and Mythological Importance

In North India, 14th of January is celebrated as the Makar Sankranti, which symbolizes Sun’s deviation towards Makar Rekha. It is called Uttarayan in Gujarat and Maharashtra, while the same day is celebrated as Sankranti in Andhra Pradesh, Kerala and Karnataka (all three states are associated with Tamil Nadu). In Punjab, it is celebrated as Lohri.

Pongal is a major festival celebrated in South India. The real meaning of Pongal is to boil. It also refers to the new year. The festival of Pongal in Tamil Nadu state of South India is welcomed differently by the Sun’s entry into Capricorn. The Sun is considered a giver of food money and is celebrated for four days and gratitude is expressed to them. Going into the depth of the subject, this festival is dedicated to the Gods related to agriculture and crops.


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Definition of Pongal:

On the first Amavasya of Pongal, people pledge to renounce bad practices and accept good things. This endeavour is known as ‘Pohi’, indicating ‘to go.’ Pongal in Tamil suggests ‘boom’ or ‘viplav’. The next day of Pohi, that is Pratipada, like Diwali, Pongal is popular.

In this festival, ‘Suryadev’ or the God of the Sun is offered the prasad or prasadam named Pongal, and the festival itself is named after the prasad, as Pongal festival. The prasad is made by boiling jaggery and rice. Another meaning of Pongal in the Tamil language is to boil well. If seen in both the forms, it comes out that boiling well and offering prasad to the Sun God. Pongal is also important because it begins on the first date of the Tamil month.

History of Pongal:

In ancient times, this festival was celebrated as Dravida Shasya Utsav. The inscription found in the temple at Tiruvallur suggests that Kilutunga used to donate land and temples to the poor on the occasion of King Pongal. On this occasion, there was a practice of daring war with dance ceremony and bull. The most powerful person at that time was the girl who chose her husband by putting varmala on this day.

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Mythology of Pongal:

Madurai’s husband and wife are associated with Kannagi and Kovalan. Once, at the behest of Kannagi, Kovalan went to the goldsmith to sell Payal. The goldsmith tells Raja that Payal who has come to sell Kovalan is similar to Rani’s stolen Payal.

The king sentenced Kovalan to the gallows without any investigation for this crime. Enraged by this, Kannagi did a great penance to Shiva and asked him the boon to destroy the king as well as his kingdom.

When the people of the state came to know about this, the women there worshipped Kali Mata on the banks of river Killilyar. Prayed to arouse mercy in Kannagi to protect the life and kingdom of his king.

Mata Kali, happy with the fast of women, awakened a sense of compassion in Kannagi and protected the king and the state. Since then, this festival has been celebrated with great pomp in the Kali temple. In this way, the four-day Pongal ends.

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Four-day festivity:

This festival, which lasts for four days, has four Pongal. Dedicated to nature, this festival is being celebrated since the early times after harvesting of crops. The significance of this festival can be estimated from the fact that it continues for four days straight. Every day Pongal has a different name. It starts in January.

The four types of Pongal are as follows – Badhi Pongal, Surya Pongal, Mattoo Pongal and Kanya Pongal. Indra Dev is worshipped in Bhogi Pongal on the first day. Indradev is also known as Bhogi. People worship and worship Indradev on the first day of Pongal for rain and good harvest. The fourth Pongal is Kanya Pongal which was celebrated with great pomp in a Kali temple here. Only women participate in it.

The first Pongal is named as Bhogi Pongal, which is devoted to Devraj Indra, the deity of the heavens, lightning, thunder, storms, rains, river flows, and conflict etc. This is called Bhogi Pongal because Devraj Indra Bhog is considered to be the god who enjoys great luxury. On this day in the evening, people bring old clothes, garbage, etc. from their homes and collect them in a place and burn them. It shows respect for God and a sense of ending evil. Around this fire, youth play Bhogi Kottam all night, which is a type of drum made of buffalo sing.

The second Pongal is called Surya Pongal. It is requested to Lord Surya. On this day, a special type of Kheer called Pongal is made, which is made from newly prepared rice, moong dal and jaggery in an earthen pot. After Pongal is ready, special worship is done to the Sun God and he is offered this Pongal and sugarcane in the form of Prasad and gratitude is given for giving the crop. The third Pongal is called Mattoo Pogle.


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According to Tamil beliefs, Mattu is Lord Shankar Cabal, due to a mistake, Lord Shankar asked him to live on earth to produce food for humans and since then he has been residing on earth and serving the mankind and helping them in agricultural work. On this day, farmers bathe their bulls. They apply oil in their singles and decorate the bulls in other ways. They are worshipped after decorating the hair. On this day the bulls, cows and calves are worshipped. It is also known by the term Keanu Pongal, in which sisters worship for their brother’s prosperity and happiness, and brothers give gifts and blessings to their sisters. The practice of praying for a long life by sisters for their brothers, like Bhai Dooj, is just like the festivals celebrated in North India, by taking out the rice of new paddy and making it as an offering, cleaning the oxen and horses. It is like the worship of Chhath, Bhai Dooj and Govardhan.

Kanya Pongal is celebrated on the last day of this four-day festival, which is also called by the name of Thiruvallur. On this day the house is decorated. Toran is made at the door with mango Pulver and coconut leaves. On this day, women make kolam i.e. rangoli on the head of the house. Pongal is celebrated with great pomp on this day, people wear new clothes and send Pongal and sweets to others as Vayana. The battle of bulls takes place on this Pongal day, which is quite famous. During the night, people organize a religious meal and wish each other a happy year.


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