India is country of festivals. On our back seat, we always carry some festival. We celebrate many festivals, some are religious festivals and some are national festivals. But today we are going to talk about Harvest Festivals. Why do we celebrate harvest festivals? How many harvest festivals are there in India? And many more interesting topics.
Why do we celebrate harvest festivals?
For an agriculture-based country like India, the end of barren winters calls for a celebration.
How many harvest festivals are there in India?
The first harvest of the year is welcomed in different colours across the country, with some parts observing the festival as:
- Makar Sankranti : West & Middle states of India
- Lohri: Punjab & Northern states
- Pongal: Tamil Nadu
Hindu Astrology goes back 5,000 years & the zodiac calendar & signs were documented in our Vedas.
Why do we celebrate Sankranti festival?
Festival of Makar-sankranti is celebrated every year on 14 or 15 January depending upon the solar cycle, to mark the first day of the sun’s transition to Capricorn.
It signifies the arrival of longer days. This festival is mentioned in our Sanskrit scriptures & has been celebrated for 1000’s of years.
How Sankranti is celebrated?
To celebrate the auspicious period, people clean their houses and surroundings. The whole family takes bath early in the morning and wear traditional attire for the four days of the festival, starting on 14th January. The women wear saris or pavada, while men don the angavastram.
Why is the Pongal festival celebrated?
Pongal, also called Tai Pongal, is the most famous festival, which is celebrated to thank Lord Surya (Sun God) & Lord Indra (God of Rain) for helping farmers in getting better-yielding crops.
What does Pongal mean?
“Pongal”, which means “to boil, overflow” and refers to the traditional dish prepared from the new harvest of rice boiled in milk with jaggery (raw sugar).
The Pongal sweet dish prepared is
- First offered to the Gods and Goddesses
- Then the cows
- And then shared by the family.
Festive celebrations include:
- decorating cows
- ritual bathing and processions
- decorating rice-powder based Kolam artworks
- offering prayers in the home & temples
- getting together with family and friends
- exchanging gifts to renew social bonds of solidarity
How is Pongal celebrated in Tamilnadu?
Tamilians have a strong belief that family problems will be resolved during the Thai month, beginning on the Pongal day.
The famous saying “Thai Pirandhal Vazhi Pirakkum” meaning Along with joy and happiness, the month Thai will also bring new opportunities is often quoted in respect to Pongal festival.
This month is auspicious for all celebrations e.g.wedding ceremonies or start of new job or business. Ceremonies performed in the festive carnival.
What are the 4 days of Pongal?
The First Day: BHOGI PONGAL
The first day of the festival is called The Bhogi Pongal & is celebrated in the honour of Lord Indra for providing prosperity to the land.
On this day, people throw their useless household items into the bonfire made up of wood.
Hymns in praise of the God are sung & dancing takes place around the fire.
The Second Day: SURYA PONGAL,
Is dedicated to Lord Surya, the Sun God. The lady of the house will decorate the front of her house with an elaborate pattern with rice & white lime powder. & Outside the house,
- A turmeric plant is tied to an earthenware pot, in which rice is boiled in milk.
- Two sticks of sugarcane are kept in the background
- Dishes are decorated with coconut and bananas
This, is then owed to the Lord Sun along with other offerings.
The Third Day: MATTU PONGAL is celebrated as a day for cows.
Hindus regard cattle as sources of wealth for providing dairy products, fertilizer, transport and agricultural aid.
Cows are adorned with multi-colored bells, garland of flowers, tinkling bells and sheaves of corn.
To pay homage & ward off evil, Arti is carried out on cows.
The cows are fed the Pongal dish, & paraded in villages, where,
Often cattle races are organized as a community event
The Fourth Day: KANUM PONGAL, final day
The word kanum means “to visit.”
Many families hold reunions on this day.
Communities organize social events to strengthen mutual bond. There’s dance events and colorful community processions with Festive dresses.
- Relatives, friends and neighbours visit each other
- Youngsters go out to meet seniors among the relatives to pay respects and seek blessings.
- Villagers cut and consume farm fresh sugarcane during social gatherings.
On this day, there’s another special event, called, Kanu Pidi , which is observed by women and young girls.
They place a leaf of turmeric plant outside their home, and feed the left-over pongal dish and food from Surya Pongal to crows, They pray for their brothers’ well-being, ( similar to Bhaiya dooj in north India).
Brothers give special gifts to their married sisters.
On this day, the largest pilgrimage and annual gathering of Hindu women to the Attukal Bhagavathy Temple near Thiruvanathapuram (Kerala) takes place & Free food is distributed to everyone on the streets. This marks the end of the 4-day festival.