Pongal- The festival of Harvest
India is a land of cultural diversity, festivity and agriculture. India is an agriculture prime country and a lot of our festival echoes our sentiments towards it. Pongal or Thai Pongal is one such festival celebrated by the Tamil community across the world. It is a 4-day festival that celebrates the harvest and is also a form of appreciation conveyed to Sun God for providing the energy for agriculture growth. Pongal corresponds with another similar festival in North India called Makar Sakrant.
Pongal is on cards. It is that time of the year when the sun starts its journey to the northern hemisphere. We celebrate it with great enthusiasm and the fresh new harvest. It is primarily celebrated for 4 days starting from 13th January to 16th, sometimes from 14th January to 17th of the January month. The festival has its own traditional approach to celebrations which primarily begins by boiling the first Rice of the harvest with sweet milk in a Pongal dish.
Pongal is primarily a Tamilian festival, however, different people from different parts of India celebrates it by just another name. While, we are sure everybody has their own way of bringing the Sakrant/ Pongal festivities, here's sharing 5 different ways to bring in Pongal irrespective of the city you live in, religion you follow, while following some of the basic rituals still intact. So, let's celebrate the festival of harvest and send our appreciation to Sun God, in little Tamil and more Indian way, with difference-
1) The Margzhi Kolam Way- Clean the house and the surrounding floor and embellish it with Kolam- traditional, decorative rice flour Rangoli. We can embrace this culture by living the "Swachch Bharat" movement in the areas in nearby. Let's vow to take up a particular area in the city especially the backward and work towards getting it clean and decorated with colourful Rangolis. If you do not know how to make Rangoli, buy those amazing stencils as available in the market.
2) The Bhogi or the Joy of Giving way- They say absorb what is useful, discard what is not. This Pongal throw a thorough glance at your home and make a list of different items under these categories-
2a) Things that are of immediate or regular use
2b) Things that you haven't used in last 6 months like clothes, utensils, books or so
2c) Things that you haven't used in last 1 year or so
2d) Things that are the waste, damaged and unrepairable.
Now, examine the items in 2b and 2c and carefully evaluate if you really need those stuff in your house or would it be better to give it away to someone who may not have it or need it. Since you are not using it, someone else may make a better use of it rather than it lying wasted/getting rot and using unwanted space. I use that for my clothes, makeup, shoes and utensils. Management Gurus calls it "Seiri" and you can adopt it as your Pongal Giveaway Ritual. Also, you can make use of ongoing "Sale" season to buy new clothes for not so privileged one. There is nothing as fulfilling as "Joy of Giving".
Oh! about 2d? Well just find a better, environment-friendly way to discard them.
3) Thai Pongal or the Winter Solstice Way- This is the main day when families gathers and celebrates the day with prayers and in an abundance of food and festivity. An occasion to meet and greet your long lost friends, family and acquaintances and surprise them by throwing a nice Pongal theme house party. Decorate your home in the traditional way, put Rangoli, flowers and cook healthy yet salivating authentic Indian food, made from fresh harvest. A personal party with food and chat is a great way to bring along the festivities especially in busy city lives.
4) The Green Earth Way- We take so much from the Earth, the sun, the winds that works selflessly to help us sustain our life. Since Pongal is an appreciation of Lord Sun, let us take this appreciation a notch ahead by planting more trees on Earth. Yes, let us go Green and set a new trend by planting more Trees so prevent natural calamity like recently concluded Chennai Floods.
5) The "Kaka pidi, Kanu pidi" or Gluttony Way- Our festival marks great feasting with festivity. It is time to prepare some authentic Indian food this Pongal like- Sakkara Pongal [Sweet Rice], vegetable bowl, Til-gud [Sesame-jaggery laddus] and peanut bars. Go explore your culinary imaginations, create if you must, infuse new ideas, make fusion dishes and feast on. Feed healthy and clean food to cattle stock or other stray animals.
Traditionally, in Kaka pidi women and girl place a feast of colour rice, sweet Pongal, banana and cooked vegetables on ginger/turmeric leaf for crows to enjoy. This ritual is to pray for the stronger bonds between siblings aka "Kanu Pidi".
The festivals bring in lot of goodness from our art and culture. An important thing that you should keep in mind during the feasting and festivity is about food safety too. A lot of time food gets contaminated within our house due to pests like cockroaches. Cockroaches crawl into our house from the drain and hide in the nooks and corners of the kitchen. Being nocturnal, they get out of their hiding place in the night and crawl over any open food and utensils lying around in your kitchen and thus contaminating them. Therefore, use LAL HIT, the only solution that can kill even the hidden cockroaches with its unique deep reach nozzle.
The festival is after all, celebrating with fun, food and family. Hope you have a great Pongal ahead!
Haute Kutir wishes, all its readers a very Happy Pongal!