Tamils gear up to celebrate Pongal



Tamils across the world are gearing up to celebrate Pongal festival Thursday.

The harvest festival is celebrated on the first day of the Tamil month of Thai and is hence is also known as Thai Pongal.

In his Pongal greeting, central Minister of State for Road Transport, Highways and Shipping Pon Radhakrishnan urged people to help banish alcohol from the state.

Greeting the people, AIADMK general secretary J. Jayalalithaa said Pongal was a festival when the farming community prayed to God and thanked the cattle who assist them in their lives.

DMK president M. Karunanidhi and BJP's Tamil Nadu state chief Tamilisai Soundarrajan also greeted the people on the occasion.

The festival is spread over four days, with the first day being Bhogi when people clean their homes, burn old items and start the new month with renewed hopes.

On the second day, cooking "chakarai pongal" (sweet pongal) is an important part of the festivities. The food is then dedicated to Sun god.

Drawing a picture of the Sun using rice powder is another highlight.

People also tie a piece of sugarcane, turmeric and ginger along with their leaves around the neck of a milk pot. The milk is then boiled until it spills over.

Once the milk boils over, the family gathers around it, clang metal plates and welcomes the festival, chanting "Pongalo Pongal!"

In villages, the sweet pongal is cooked in the open ground.

The third day is Mattu Pongal when bulls and cows are bathed and their horns painted and worshipped as they play a key role in farming.

Women feed birds with coloured rice and pray for the welfare of their brothers.

The fourth day is Kannum Pongal - the day to go out and meet relatives, friends. - IANS