‘Ma what is Pongal’? Why is it also called ‘Makar Sankranti’?, her curious little daughter asked.
She thought this is the right time to let them absorb the significance of the festival. As they went over to the terrace where they stayed in Ahmedabad they saw the sky lit up with a vibrant colours and shapes and an innumerable number of people enthusiastically flying kites.Nobody stayed back at their houses. Everyone was either flying kites or indulging themselves in the mood of the season.
They looked on for a while and decided to go out to the open ground where competitions were held. The competitions were tough but the laughter mingled with it sent lot of positive energies. It was the day to socialize, laugh and ease away the worries.
Ma said, “ My dear, Pongal is a festival celebrated to thank the Sun God for a good harvest. It is generally celebrated for four days in January 14 to 17 depending on the auspicious days of the calendar.
It is a Hindu festival that falls around the same time each year. It is also known as Lohri, Makar Sankranth, Pongal, Uttarayan.
You may have learnt about the Uttarayan and Dakshinayan in geography. During the northward journey of the Sun from winter to summer solstice there are three seasons: winters, springs and summers. The Uttarayana period starts on January 14 on the occasion of Makar Sankranti and ends at Karka Sankranti (July 16).
In Gujarat, Makar Sankranti is celebrated by the name of Uttarayana. They also celebrate by flying kites.
Dakshinayana is the period when Sun travels back from North to South. We see rains, autumn, and winters in this period of year.
In Hindu religion, a person who dies in Uttarayana is supposed to go to heaven. In the Hindu epic Mahabharatha, Bhishma in death bed made by Arjuna‘s arrows, when he was on the verge of death, he waited till the advent of Uttarayana to lumber his mortal body.
Let me tell you about Pongal now.
The four days of Pongal are celebrated with equal pomp and show in the South.
On the first day of the Pongal people decorate their homes, with ‘kolams’ or ‘rangoli’ made of rice powder soaked and ground to a fine paste; in their courtyard. These kolams also have borders applied by a red stone soaked in little water. People buy new vessels to throw away the old ones.
They also buy sugar-canes as offering to the Sun God. It is also distributed to everyone around.
On the second day, the Pongal dish is cooked with new rice and moong dal, boiled with milk and jaggery is prepared exactly at the time when the new month is born. It is prepared in a thick bottom vessel on a stove and then they wait for the milk to overflow out of the ‘paanai’ [vesslel] and shout out in excitement together ‘PONGALO PONGAL’. The sky echoes with enthusiastic cries of “Pongalo Pongal’.
The third day is ‘Mattu Pongal’, celebrated to adore cattle that help farmers in innumerable ways. On this day, the cows are bathed; decorated with vermilion and garlands and fed. In certain villages in southern Tamil Nadu, a bullfight called manji-virattu is held in the evening.
On the fourth day a sumptuous meal is prepared for all in the family. All the dishes are rolled to set aside in a turmeric leaf for birds to eat. It is called ‘Kannu Pongal’. People dress up for this occasion and participate in the Kolattam or Kummi dance. Everyone from various age groups enjoy themselves on this dance.
In Gujarat, Uttarayan is the festival of kites; as I told earlier. There are kite flying competitions that are generally conducted to engage in social gatherings. They prepare a dish called ‘Unidhiyo’ in Gujarat and celebrate on this day.’
“Ma, but why do they fly kites?”
She said, “ It is actually a ritual to fly them. Kites are made of various colours and shapes this day. Think about it like this dear,
A kite shows us to aspire with higher goals in life and keep our vision elevated. Don’t look down upon yourself or your ideas and also upon others”.
As they kept conversing and enjoying the sights the kid suddenly shouted “Oh my god! That kite fell down, Ma. Wish it had strong wings, isn’t it?”
Mom said, “That was bound to happen my dear. When you fly too high the spirits must keep you humble. You rise in life and you take all your friends and well wishers along with you. As you soar higher; there is a need to face the force of the winds and judge the situation. Yet at times you are put down by others and their insecurities in life too. In the process of falling down it is vital that nobody else is harmed by the glass coated string on the ‘Manjaas’. Just the same, while you fall don’t take others in your stride lest you harm others.”
Her daughter, smiling nodded in awe, listening to all the details that she had learnt that day. She would write down all that in her diary soon. She had loads of information to share with her friends now.
‘This post is a part of Write Over the Weekend, an initiative for Indian Bloggers by BlogAdda.’
Picture credits- google images
Wishing everyone a Very Happy ‘Makar Sankranti’ and ‘HAPPY PONGAL’