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The first day of Pongal is called Bhogi. It is a day where cleaning and discarding of old belongings are carried out to signify a fresh start. New clothes are worn, houses are decorated in the spirit of the festivity.
The second day is the main day of Pongal and is celebrated as Surya Pongal. On this day, the Sun God is honoured. Colourful decorative floor patterns called kolam are drawn at the entrance of one’s home, and each household cooks a pot of fresh rice with milk at auspicious timings.
As the milk boils freely over the pot, family members shout out happily “Pongalo Pongal”! After the Pongal is offered to the Sun God, they would feast on several Pongal dishes that are prepared especially for the day.
The third day of Pongal is called Maatu Pongal. This day is devoted to honour and worship the cattle (Maatu) to remember the work they do – ploughing the land. Cows are bathed and adorned with multi-coloured beads, flowers garlands, and bells. In Singapore, thanksgiving prayers would be conducted for the cattle at some dairy farms owned by Indians.
The fourth day of Pongal is called Kaanum Pongal. On this day, importance is given to the community and to strengthen ties. Families gather together to have a sumptuous meal. Younger members seek the blessings of the older members of their families. It is also a day for traditional Indian folk dances such as mayilattam and kolattam.
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Pulli kolam is most commonly drawn during Pongal. It is drawn at the entrance of one’s home. Dots of rice flour are placed in a grid-like framework, which are then joined to form symmetrical patterns.
The Sun is worshipped as the source of life, as it allows for the growth of good harvest that provides food for humans.
Pongal means to ‘overflow’, hence the pot of milk boils over to symbolise prosperity and abundance. This is then served to members of the family as well as any visitors to the house.
Thoranam is a hanging decoration traditionally used by the Tamil community. They are usually made using coconut or mango leaves.
The cow is honoured for the work it does in ploughing the land and contributing to a good harvest.
Sugarcane, which is an important harvest of the season, signifies prosperity and well-being.
When the milk boils over the pot, those celebrating would shout out “Pongalo Pongal!”
What is Pongal?
Reflect and share on what you have learnt together with your friends or your teacher.