Pongal 2020: Check dates, history, significance and traditions of the festival!

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Pongal, Pongal 2020, Pongal dates, harvest festival, Tamil Nadu, Thai Pongal, muttu pongal, kaanum pongal, bhogi, shakkara pongal, uttarayan punyakalam, Sun God, Lord Indra

Pongal 2020 festival: Celebrated largely in Tamil Nadu, the festival of Pongal lasts for four days. It is a harvest festival. The most important of these four days is the second one, also called 'Thai Pongal'. Thai Pongal coincides with the north Indian festival of Makar Sankranti. This year, Pongal is slated to be celebrated from January 15 to 18. Thai Pongal marks the first day of the Thai month, according to the Tamil solar calendar. The second day of the celebrations, Thai Pongal, is followed by Muttu Pongal and then Kaanum Pongal.

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The festival is of immense value to the people of Tamil Nadu. They thank the Sun God for providing the energy to grow crops, on which the livelihood of farmers depends. It is celebrated by boiling the first rice of the harvest, which is first offered to gods and then distributed among family members.

History of Pongal

The celebration of the festival of Pongal dates back to 2,000 years, as early as the early Chola empire. Celebrated on the third day of the Thai month, it is important to most Hindu families in Tamil Nadu as they pray to Sun God Surya and Lord Indra. The festival gets its name from the dish that is prepared to mark the occasion.

What is the significance of Pongal?

The period, referred to as Uttarayan Punyakalam, is significant to Hindus as it is considered an auspicious occasion in the Hindu mythology. It is believed that this is when Gods wake up from a six-month-long sleep to bestow prosperity and wealth on the people of Earth. On Pongal, Tamil Hindus decorate their houses with banana and mango leaves and use rice powder to make decorative patterns.

What are the festivities on Pongal?

On Pongal, families prepare Pongal and Shakkara Pongal dishes. Apart from this, sugarcane is also offered. A special Puja is held to offer prayers to the Sun God. On the first of the four-day festival, called Bhogi, people discard old articles and welcome new ones. Farmers burn old items in a fire while chanting a mantra that translates to "Let old things go away and let new things come our way". The message behind this day is to not be resistant to change. One should change with changing times and embrace new ideas and thoughts.