Events

Pongal: The Harvest Festival of Tamilians

Illustration of family on second day of Pongal

There are many studies being done to understand our connection with this universe. Some even state that, “There are similarities in the working of the two systems completely different in scale — the network of neuronal cells in the human brain and the cosmic web of galaxies”.

I guess our ancestors also had a similar thought process as we do now, even though it is hard to find any written documentation of their studies. But we have our festivals, especially the harvest festivals. This festival is named and celebrated differently in different parts of the world. For Tamilians, it is Pongal which means “to boil, overflow”, and it marks the end of the winter solstice.

As the saying goes, “Where there is a will, there is a way”. The mind is a very powerful tool which has to be channelled with care. So yes, we have tried to form a connection with the universe through our mind.

We all know that the earth is the only known planet to have living beings, since we have the right mix of seasons. Hence, by the end of the winter season which is also known as the Tamil month of Margazhi (December to January), in the southern parts of India and Sri Lanka, where the Tamilians in the Sangam era were living, they observed ‘Pavai Nonbu’.

‘Pavai Nonbu’ was part of the Thai Niradal celebration, a major festival during the reign of the Pallavas (4 to 8 century AD). During this festival, people prayed for rain and prosperity for the country. Throughout the month, they observed self-restraining standards to help awaken their senses and concentrate their energy towards a good cause by focusing their mind towards it. They ended their penance on the first day of the month of Thai, which is January to February. This was to bring abundant rains so that the paddy crop would flourish and grow. These traditions and customs of ancient times gave rise to the Pongal celebrations.

Cover of the January 2023 issue of The Teenager Today featuring the International Kite Festival held at Ahmedabad, Gujarat.

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Midula Kanchana Surendiran is a cost engineer based in Chennai. She likes to travel and explore the world. Her favourite proverb is, “Live and Let Live”, and she dreams of world peace.

Midula Kanchana Surendiran

Midula Kanchana Surendiran is a cost engineer based in Chennai. She likes to travel and explore the world. Her favourite proverb is, “Live and Let Live”, and she dreams of world peace.