Wednesday, 6 July 2011

Pongal – History, Legends..

History of Pongal:
The history of pongal traces back to the era known as Sangam in South India. Sangam era ranged from 200 BC to 200 AD. The era was followed by the ruling of Pallavas and during this era people used to celebrate the festival as worship to rain god. Historians identify this festival with Thai Niradal and Thai Un. People used to observe several penances to get the abundance of paddy. It was the day of pongal when the penances were ended and the bounty harvest was offered to the Lord. There were several customs and traditions observed that gave rise to pongal celebrations.

Legends of Pongal:
Once Lord Shiva asked Nandi (the diven bull of Lord Shiva) to go the earth and announce his message to the people that they must have an oil massage to their body and bath daily and must eat food once a month. But Nandi, who is also known as Basava, announced to the people: Lord Shiva is saying have an oil massage to the body and bath once a month and eat food daily. This mistake enraged Lord Shiva and cursed Basava to stay on the earth as this can lead to lack of food grains. Thus banished Basava came to Earth and started ploughing the fields for well-being of people. Thus this day Basava is worshiped and offered clothes and paraphernalia as thanksgiving token to Lord Shiva and Basava.

This day is also called as Mattu pongal ot Kanu pongal and on this day the association with the cattle is given preference.

Though pongal is the festival of farming communities, the festival is celebrated with great enthusiasm by all the communities. In spite of urbanization, many traditions and customs are observed this day.

Pongal is celebrated for four days and all the four days people make merry in different ways. The market starts flooding with the harvested outcomes such as sugarcanes, turmeric, rice and cereals. People welcome the new harvest with lively spirit. They discard all the old stocks and welcome new by offering to the sun god and rain god. New clothes, delicious dishes and exchange of gifts are seen on the day which makes the occasion all the more jubilant.

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