The Pongal Festival

Hello, dear MadRookers!!!

I want to share something about one of the Tamil cultures and its festivals. The festival is called “Pongal”.

It is a delicious, sweet traditional dish from Tamil culture. The word “pongal” means the moment the dish overflows from the pot.


This festival starts from Jan 13th to 16th.

The first day – Jan 13: Bhogi festival.

In this day we burn the old things like pillows, mats, papers, etc. In ancient days people followed this ritual to indicate burning all the old evil things from our mind and getting into a new personality. But today’s generation totally forgets the significance of this festival and they only remember burning the old things. During this burning time, women and children (sometimes men) will do circling the fire by singing. (Like a musical chair)

The second day – Jan 14: Pongal aka The Farmer’s day.

This day is dedicated to the farmers. This festival has been followed by the farmers. Nowadays, due to the urbanization, many people moved to cities and forgot about farming/agriculture. (Even a Farmer’s son don’t know how to farm. He sends his son to the city to make a better living and doesn’t want him to suffer as the farmer did. Because the seasonal rainfall fails, and the process takes almost 6 months to reach the harvest period, their products don’t get paid enough in the market. Whenever the harvesting season comes, the product price also falls down.)

The pumpkin sale rises during the Halloween. Similarly, the Sugarcane sale rises during pongal festival. Pongal festival is not completed without biting a sugarcane.  🙂

People love to draw in front of their home with color powders. (which is called Kolam) The purpose of kolam itself has a long history. During the festival, we eat delicious food and we share it with our neighbors and friends. What about the birds, insects and other creatures around us? The Kolam meant to be drawn by rice powder, so that the ants, insects will get food.

The third day – Jan 15: Cow’s pongal/Bull’s Pongal 

The third day is dedicated to the bulls & cows. In old days, Bulls were used to plow/loosening the soil and cows were used for milk production.

So In return, farmers like to pay a tribute to the bulls&cows. So they celebrate this day which is dedicated to the bulls&cows. We prepare pongal, decorate those bulls & cows by painting their horns, wearing garlands around their necks. And we give the pongal to those Bulls&cows first, we only eat after they tasted it at least a bit.

And we do a bull-taming event at that day. You may have heard it #Jallikattu. It is a world famous bull-taming which has been suspended due to some animal welfare organizations filed a petition against this event. It didn’t happen since 3 years ago. Jallikattu aka bull-taming supporters continues to protest against the ban of that event (It is still happening by the time I write this post).

As a jallikattu supporter, I believe that it is a tradition. In old days, Tamil people did this event to estimate the vitality of the bulls. If anybody managed to take control over the bull, then they decide that bull has a low vitality and they send that bull to farming/plowing process. And all other bulls are labeled as a high vitality holder and those bulls are only used to breeding process. 🙂

So the protesters say, if we ban jallikattu, then the least possibility of raising bulls will be gone. There will be no bulls, then the corporate companies will enter the market with the artificial fertilization methods. (That’s how we lost the cock/hen and invited the broiler chicken)

The 4th day – Jan 16: Kaanum pongal (Kaanum means to visit) & The great Tamil poet Thiruvalluvar’s birthday.

This event is for all people. They are supposed to visit river bed and spending time with the family members and getting their blessings Brother and sisters pay tributes to each other by exchanging gifts and praying for their well-being. (Is that related to thanksgiving? I don’t know you tell me ) 🙂

The day is also called as Thiruvalluvar day to pay tribute to the tamil poet and philosopher “Thiruvalluvar”. His main contribution to the Tamil Literature was “Thirukkural”.

I hope this post is informative. Thank you. 🙂

Last but not least, One of the well-known Tamil musicians made a music video for “Jallikattu aka bull-taming event. This song has been played all over Tamilnadu for the past few days. (Some of you might have noticed my FB cover photo which was taken from this song) 😉


  1. Thank you for sharing about the festival, Vassanth. It is very interesting and informative.

    When you wrote ” They are supposed to visit river bed”, you meant they visit the side of the river or the river bank, right? Because a riverbed is the floor of a river as I understand it.

    Do the farmers in India still use bulls and cows for farming, or are they all accustomed to machines?



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