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What is Pongal?

What is Pongal?

Pongal is a harvest festival celebrated by the Tamil community. It is a celebration to thank the Sun, Mother Nature and the various farm animals that help to contribute to a bountiful harvest. Celebrated over four days, Pongal also marks the beginning of the Tamil month called Thai, which is considered an auspicious month. It usually falls on the 14th or 15th of January each year.

Pongal is also the name of the dish made and eaten during this festival. It is a mixture of sweet boiled rice. It is derived from the Tamil word pongu, which means “to boil over”.

Four Days of Pongal


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Icons of Pongal

Click on the illustrated icons to learn more about the Pongal Festival!

Pulli Kolam

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 rice 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 rice boils over the pot, those celebrating would shout out “Pongalo Pongal!”

What is Pongal?

Quiz Time

Question 1
Which Tamil month is Pongal celebrated in?
Question 2
Pulli Kolam is drawn to drive prosperity into the home. Where is it commonly drawn?
on a Pongal pot
on the walls of your home
at the entrance of your home
Question 3
When you are cooking the Pongal dish, the rice has to boil over the pot! This is to symbolise:
harmony and integrity
prosperity and abundance
respect and responsibility
Yay !
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