The second day of the festivities, or Thai Pongal, is considered the most important day, and also coincides with Makar Sakranti. This year, Pongal celebrations will start from January 14 and continue till January 17. Thai Pongal is followed by Mattu Pongal, which is then followed by the Kaanum Pongal. The day before Thai Pongal is celebrated as ‘Bogi Pandigai’.
Pongal means “spilling over” and it has been named after the tradition of boiling freshly-harvested rice in a new clay pot along with milk and jaggery until it starts overflowing. This signifies auspicious beggings, along with the gradual heating of Earth by the sun.
The concoction of rice, milk, and jaggery is then prepared with ghee, sugar, raisins, and cashews, and served to the Sun God first, as gratitude for an excellent harvest. This dish is also called ‘pongal’. It is later served on banana leaves and fed to an entire community. Pongal is cooked at sunrise, and in an open space.
What happens during Pongal?
On the first day of Pongal, people clean their homes, discard unused and redundant items, and light a bonfire. It is similar to how people in the north-Indian state of Punjab celebrate another harvest festival called Lohri.