Theweekendleader

Tamil Nadu celebrates Pongal

Chennai

14-January-2013

Tamil Nadu celebrated the harvest festival Pongal Monday with thanks being offered to the sun, rain and farm animals on the first day of Tamil month Thai.

Across the state, people rose early, wore new clothes and offered special prayers at temples.

At homes, children beating a small drum shouted 'Pongolo Pongal' when milk started boiling over at the auspicious time. The ritual is part of preparing Chakarai Pongal, the special dish cooked as part of festivities.

When the milk boils over, other ingredients - rice, jaggery, Bengal gram - are added to the milk and finally ghee-fried cashews, almonds and cardamom.

The vessel in which the dish is cooked -- a mud pot in earlier days and stainless steel pots now -- is decorated with ginger, turmeric, a piece of sugarcane and banana tied at the neck.

The Pongal dish is offered to the sun god as thanksgiving and eaten as 'prasad'. People exchange greetings and Chakarai Pongal with their neighbours. - IANS